Buffy, the Slayer of Sunnydale...

Well, I did say before I'd write it up one of these days...

And I need a little unblocking bit...

Archived at www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca...

PG-13...One or two violent scenes...

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant
Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: The Buffyized version of a certain Shakespeare play...

Basically...Spike's back...William-souled...

And Buffy and Spike seek to marry...Over mucho opposition...

Giles returning too late to stop them...Fearing tragedy, even with Will's soul restored...

While the Brooding One...Out of his submersible casket, more or less reconciled with
Connor...Hearing of the happy news even as he returns from LA with news of a pending Apocalypse,
courtesy Wolfram-Hart, Inc...Is not utterly delighted for his old friends...

Suggested theme (Romeo and Juliet)
***
                 


Act One...

Scene one...(Sunnydale at night, a street)

Enter Angel and Parker...

"God-damn, man...Is it really true?..." Parker asks...

It is...Angel eyes him...

"But you told me she was just playing hard to get...All I had to do was keep on coming by and after
a coupla of dirty looks and slammed doors, Buffy'd be all over me like a love-struck puppy..."

So desperate...You said...Parker glares at his mentor...She'd even be willing to overlook our first
little relationship...

"So...Stake me...I didn't believe it either when she told me tonight..."

"But...Damnit, man...William the Bloody's a vampire..."

You're telling me?...Angel smiles drily...

"Isn't she "The Slayer"? Isn't she supposed to kill 'em?...

Parker waves his hands...

"How can she wanta marry him?..."

"My dear old...Friend...is human-souled again...And even his demon did what he could to help her
last year..." Angel notes...With a sour grin...

Or so she says...And even the most skeptical of her friends here admit...Spike was trying...

"Hey..." Parker moves back a bit, looking Angel over...

You sure you're not in on this...Just stringin' me along for your old pal Willy?...

"I mean...I know you and Buffy used to be a couple.."

Not really...Angel replies coldly...I found sex with her a bit of a chore...

"Got my demon counterpart all riled up as well..."

And I've already proven to you that happiness...And the one-on-one love of a human is denied me...

But you could reach her...Keep her from making a terrible mistake...Angel smiles thinly at his
"friend"...

I can still care that much for her...he solemnly notes...

Besides...He smiles again...A sardonic sneer...

"You know I'm an old married man now myself..."

Parker frowns...Yeah and that's another question...he thinks...

"Well...If "happiness" is denied you...How come you could marry that Cordelia...?"

"My boy needed a mother...She was looking for anyplace after her "higher plane" existence didn't
pan out...Besides..." he sneers...

"Who said being married to Cordelia and happiness belong in the same sentence?..."

But you said you were back here to work with them...And their Council?...

"Kid..." Angel eyed Parker...

"Rest the spinning wheels of your whirling little mind..."

I'm "helping" William and Buffy and their Council to serve my turn upon them...

There are lots of pious world-saving Buffies and their dogishly devoted Wills around if you look for
them...Aided by plenty of dim-witted clods like their little gang of Xanders and Willows...

Content to get nothing out of it but the satisfaction of saving some foolish schmuck...Or their little
town...Or dear ole Humanity...

He waves his hand...

"Oh, I was one such...For a bit..."

Was gonna earn my Redemption...Then my Buffy...

But Fate and the Powers that Be cheated me at every turn...Refused me my just reward...Buffy...And
the power and acclaim that my world-saving heroics...In the big city, I might add, not some little
one-horse burg like this...Should have brought me from a grateful Council of Watchers...And
Humanity...

Then showed me that Darla...My old siress' human soul...Was my true love...And took her away as
well after waving her in my face for a few short days...Proving her love and nobility even as she died
saving my boy from her demon...

And now...I get to watch good ole Will...Spike the mass murderer...Do a few good deeds, pick a
fight with some damned demon god in some crummy hole of a village in Africa, and get a soul,
complete with happiness accessibility as a reward...And Buffy as the icing on his cake...

Hmmn...Parker thought, nodding to keep his dangerously powerful "mentor" happy...He did get a
kid and his own soul out of his own deal...And as I understand it, his demon never spent a year first
trying to protect anybody's kid sister, then comfort his human beloved back from the grave...

"Well..." Angel continued..."Screw that...And screw idiots like that..."

"Look, kid..." he smiled coldly...

Others there are who, trimmed in forms and faces of duty, keep their eye firmly set on their own
good...And throwing a little show of service on the world and their fellow "heroes", thrive...

And when they've lined their pockets...Do themselves homage...Those are the ones with a little
spirit...

And I'm one of them...Now...

Sides...I got a kid now to look out for...Who's going to the best college and graduate school
anything I can loot from my little "hero's errands" can buy...
So it behooves me to be nobody's fool...And so...I am not what I seem...

"Way to go man..." Parker, impressed...

But...I still want to do...Something... Angel smiles...

For my sweet Buffy...

Even though she betrayed me like the tramp at heart she is, he thinks...

"So...Look..." Angel points to the second floor balcony of the building looming in front of them...

"There's Xander and Anya Harris' place...Go over and call out in the street...Wake 'em up...Get ole
Xan worked up about poor ole Buffy falling prey to that phony-souled Shelley imitator...He's the
best one for this job..."

Yeah...yeah...Parker nods eagerly, starting out...

But hey, wait...he pauses...

Harris knows me from Buffy's days at UCal-Sunnydale...

"He'll know I'm up to something..."

Hell, you little moron...Angel frowns at his protege...

Damn, if only ole Warren Mears were still available...Even that idiot Jonathan would be better...he
thinks...

"Hide yourself...Disguise your voice...Claim to be an observer for the Council who's deeply
concerned about the Slayer's...Activities with ole Spike...I'll come running in and add my
support...Reluctantly of course..."

Good ole Xan will do the rest...If all goes well...he smirked...

***
Scene two...(The Harrises' balcony and the patio below)...

"Harris!...Xander Harris!..." Parker calls, hidden by a bush...

The Slayer!...he cries, making a poor attempt to disguise his voice...

Xander emerges on the balcony in bathrobe, followed by his beloved An...Likewise robed...

"Hell!?...Who is that?..What's up?..." he calls back...

"The Slayer is in danger!..." Parker yells...

"The Slayer...?" Xander returns...Cautiously...
Who is that down there?...he peers down at the patio...

"An?...You recognize the voice?..."

She shakes her head...

"A friend of the Slayer..." Parker calls up to them...

Well...? Who the hell are you?!...Xander calls back...

Anya, rather displeased at being awoken at one am, takes the direct approach...And hurls a pot at a
sudden moving shadow she spies...

Hey!...Parker cries...Coming out from his hiding place...

Tryin' to help here...

"Parker?!...You little...Get the hell out of here!..." Xander shakes a fist...

I know what you're all about...Leave Buffy alone and scram before I get down there...You little
bastard...

God, another Mears in somewhat better shape...he thinks...All we need right now...

"I said get out of here...Or do you want me to come down and make you go?!!..."

Xan...Parker looks up at him...

This is the real deal...Buffy is with that Spike guy...Right now...


When the hell did Parker ever hear about Spike?...Anya wonders...

"How the hell do you know Spike?..." Xander calls down to him...

"Everybody with half a brain and a will to live in this town knows about William the Bloody..."
Parker replies...

And anyone out at night with eyes has seen Buffy with him...he adds...

"That's it!!..." Xander howls...

Parker...Xander shakes a fist again...You've had it coming...And now...

"She's with Spike right now...They're looking for a justice of the peace..."

What the...?!!

Angel rushes in...Looking...Concerned...

As a dear friend and hero ought...

"Xander!..."

Angel?...

Knew he'd called to say he was coming about some new menace...But...Xander thought...

"Spike is back!..." Angel calls...

"Buffy has run off with him!...I saw her with him after I went to the house and Dawn told me she'd
gone out to Patrol...She barely spoke to me...She didn't even seem to be aware of what was going on
around her..."

She claimed Spike has...Gotten his soul back...?

"What?!..." Xander cries...

Said something crazy about marrying him...

"What!!!?..." Xander nearly hopped over the balcony rail...

She didn't speak to you about it?...Angel calls up...

Soul?!...Xander stared down at the vampire...

Marry...!!?

She may be in some kind of thrall...Angel notes...

Or is Willow fooling around with magics again?...he asks...

Dutifully concerned...

"Damn!!!..." Xander yells ...Looking back for a suitable weapon...

"She's in some kinda thrall all right!..." he calls back...

And it's time to break the spell...he mutters to himself...

"Xander...?" Anya looks at him...

"I can't let Spike make a fool of her anymore, An..." he hastily kissed her, grabbed the nearest
weapon, a crossbow, and his coat...And raced out...

"Xander!...Wait!..." Anya calls to him and the others from the balcony...Parker tagging along after
him and Angel...

***

Act One...

Scene three...(The Summers' street, night...)

Enter Angel, William, Buffy, and Dawn...

"I'm sorry Buffy..." Angel eyes her solemnly...

I tried to explain things to Xander...But that fool Parker'd already gotten to him...

"Pity I couldn't have been Angelis for just a sec when I saw him running off from behind the house
earlier..."

If I could've just caught him first...he sighs...

Buffy shakes her head...

"It's just as well...They'd have to find out soon enough..."

But thanks...For trying Angel...she smiles at him...

He nods kindly...

For you, Buffy...Anything...

"Well..." he smiles at Will...Still clearly a bit shell-shocked by the turn of events...

"How's the happy groom?..."

Poor fellow'd only returned...Home...Two evenings before...Only cautiously met with Buffy while
on Patrol the other night...

And now...Souled...Forgiven...Loved...And...

Married...

Not to mention having job applications pending with both Doublemeat Palace and the Royal
Council of Watchers...

But Buffy had only needed one look...After nearly staking him at their reunion...To see that restored
soul...The one she now realized she'd faintly glimpsed all the long, terrible year he'd sought so
desperately to comfort her through.....

A noble soul, somehow hanging on through a century of horror to fight its way back...To her...

And seeing that restored soul, back firmly in charge...She'd finally realized...

Who and what she was...

And why she'd been unable to fight her feelings for William...

William Soames Walthrop, child of brutal poverty, young scholar and poet out to make his way in
the world of 1880 England...

Husband, secretly and all too briefly, of one Cicely Addams...Who'd had a secret of her own...

Being the current Slayer...

And fearing to lose the husband she'd decided she'd wrongly, selfishly, married and exposed to
danger...Drove him away...With the convenient help of one Halfreck, vengeance and "justice"
demon...Summoned for her "benefit" by a "concerned" Watcher and Council...Who were determined
not to lose control of the Greatest Slayer to that date...Whatever and whoever had to be expended to
prevent it...

With the result...That too late she'd realized she'd been misled and deceived...And William driven
away by Halfreck, posing as Cicely...Into a skillfully prepared trap...Consisting of one Drusilla,
psychotic vampiress...

And she, Cicely...Tortured by remorse and shame...Dying in childbirth six months later, delivered of
a stillborn baby girl...

But determined...As only the Greatest Slayer of all Time could be...To recover her stolen life and
love...And save her William from his dark fate...

Which, if in rather roundabout fashion...She had at last done...

With her beloved's considerable help, she could proudly note...To Dawn...And the newly arrived
Angel...The first two friends to receive the joyous news of Will's restoration, her recovery of her past
life memory, and their intention...Well, he agreed to it on her desperate plea...to marry...Or
remarry...asap...

And begin the life they'd been cheated of a century ago...

***

"What are you gonna do Buffy?..." Dawn eyes her sister...Even more shaken by the turn of events
than William...
Though rather pleased to have just served so capably as her sis' maid of honor, bridesmaid, and
witness all in one...

"Will and I will explain things...We'll deal...Right, sweetheart?..." the new Ms. Summers-Walthrop
turned to her husband...

Who nodded...Grinning at her and taking her hand...Firmly...

"Buffy is right..." he smiled at Dawn...

"Sis..."

We'll deal with it...And anything else Fate wants to throw...

"I'm sure you will, William..." Angel smiled benevolently...

***

Scene four...(Inside the main room of The Magic Box, dark, night...)

A flash of blue light...Willow appears out of nowhere...Giles likewise nearby...

Phew!...Willow gasps as she looks around...The Magic Box...

"Giles?..." she calls...

"Willow?...Are you all right?..." the Watcher came over...

Yeah...she sighed...

But that was some rough ride...

She smiles...

"So this is what you went through for me...?"

Thanks, Rupert...she eyes him...

"It's my job...And my greatest joy...To do whatever I can for all of you..." Giles smiles back...

Wish he'd narrow that to me...Sometime...Willow thinks...

"But you're sure you're all right?..." he asks again...

Yeah, yeah...she nods...

"But shouldn't we have gone straight to Buffy's?" she eyes him...
No way to be sure she and Spike...William...Would be there...

And I needed the best fixed location I had coordinates for, for safety purposes...he notes...

"Well...It was a bulls-eye teleport...Rupert...You are one hell of a sorcerer...I hope you know that..."
she grins...

"I'd have felt a lot better about this trip if you hadn't insisted on coming along..." he shook his head
at her...

Hey...Miss my best friend's wedding?...Willow grins...

God forbid...Giles puts his hand to his head...

"Sorry...Bad joke..." Willow hastily replies...

"I only hope we can still stop them..." Giles eyes her...

Ummn...she can't help it...

"What if he's telling the truth...Rupert?...If he's won his soul back...?"

And if Buffy's not crazy and that Cicely story is true as well?...Willow pauses...

"Do we have the right to interfere?..."

"Even if...A very big if, my dear...All of this is true..." Giles hesitates...

You must agree Willow that it's sudden...Too sudden for Buffy and William to rush into a decision
like this...

"They may have had a whole century to think it over, Giles..."

Perhaps...he sighs...But not consciously, certainly...And surely they could afford to wait a little
longer...

"At least long enough to let me confirm Will's story...And Cicely's..."

Can you?...Willow eyes him...

"I mean...I realize you can check out his soul..."

But as to Cicely...

"I'm having some old friends at the Council review old records...Including the secret files and
journals..." he replies...

If there's any information there on Cicely Addams, Slayer...We'll get it...

"Rupert..." Willow looks at him...

"You and the guys didn't give up on me...We...All of us...Gave Anya her chance..."

I won't deny Will his chance Willow...Giles replies...

In fact, I think he's telling the truth...And I believe the Cicely story as well...

But...

"I'm afraid for them Willow...Buffy is so anxious to build a new life...And her Cicely memories must
be pressing her on as well...And no doubt poor Will is equally driven..."

They may be rushing headlong into a disaster...One even you, my dear, can't bring them back from...

Willow bites her lips nervously, looking down...

Guess we'd better go see the happy intendeds...she notes...

I do hope for their happiness, Willow...Giles eyes her...

I pray for it...
***

***
Act One

Scene five...(the street outside the Summers' home, night)
***
A car pulls up...Bearing Wesley, Cordelia, and two members of the Watchers' Council...Quentin
Travers and Amelia Walthrop-Hunt, a tall thirty-something Englishwoman...Travers looking grave
as he emerges...

Wesley looks at his former Chairman...

"I want you to know we appreciate your flying out here on such short notice, sir..."

Travers turns to Wesley...

"The situation is perilous my friend, if your reports are true...I'm glad you called us in, Wesley...The
fate of Humanity may hang in the balance..."

And it's time you and Angel regularized your position with the Council...

"Welcome back, my friend..." he put out a hand...And shook Wes'...

He eyes the waiting Ms. Walthrop-Hunt...

"Well, Amelia...Ready to meet your great-great-great-great granduncle?..." he smiles...

"I still can't believe it..." Cordelia...Mrs. Cordelia Angel now, Angel having taken Liam as his first
name...

Spike...With a soul...And...Relatives...

"Well..." Ms. Walthrop-Hunt, the image of Emma Thompson, smiles...

"I was naturally not anxious to give out my relationship to William the Bloody in his darker days..."

No desire for a friendly visit from my dear...Uncle...

"But if the story about his soul the Slayer told you people yesterday is true..." she hesitated...

Angel confirmed it when we called before we left LA...Cordelia noted...

And he would be the one to sense it...

"Well..." Travers noted dryly... "In any case, William is restrained by the chip and can be of service
here even if his soul tale is not exactly the full truth...Why don't we go and see if the Slayer is
here...We have matters of great moment to discuss..."

They head for the door...Another car pulls up....

Xander...And Parker...Both armed...With crossbows...

A light goes on at the front door of the Summers'...Buffy emerges, followed by William, Angel, and
Dawn...

"Slayer..." Travers calls to her...

Sorry to disturb you at home...But the LA situation we discussed has deteriorated...

"Hi, Xander..." Cordelia, over by the cars, smiles to him...Before seeing his grim look and the
crossbow...

"Nice to see..."

"Excuse me..." Xander moves past her...

"Spike!...You're a dead Undead man!..." he cries to William...

"No, Xander!..." Buffy moves in front of William...

"Xander?!...What the hell's wrong with you?..." Wesley comes over to him...

Haven't you heard about Spike?...er William?...he regards the angry Mr. Harris...Now loading
crossbow...

"Hello...?" he notes young Parker, a stranger to him...Likewise loading up...

Travers looks at the two angry young men while Angel comes down to the street...

"Young man..." Travers eyes Xander... "What seems to be the problem here?..."

"Problem?!...There's no "problem" here!..." Xander chokes...Swinging his crossbow up and stepping
back...

At least not in one minute...

"Xander!...No!..." Wesley cries, grabbing at the crossbow...Parker swings his up as well...

You don't understand...William has gotten his soul back!... Wesley tries to explain...

"Oh right, another vamp with a soul..." Xander sneers...

Married to our Slayer to boot...he glares at Spike and Buffy...Buffy still trying to cover her husband
who dodges past her...

"Will, no!..." Buffy cries...Grabbing him back...

"Married?..." Cordelia gasps...

Wesley stares back to Buffy and William...Married?...

Dawn nods to them...Married...

Travers and his fellow Council member equally stunned...

"Harris..." William calls to him...

Listen to me...

"Like hell, you thing from there!...Stand still and take it like an Unman..." Xander shouts, trying to
get clear of Wesley...Cordelia now hurrying to help restrain him...Angel moving on Parker...

"Don't try it, kid..." Angel calls to Parker loud enough for the others to hear...Grabbing at his
crossbow...

I mean it...he hisses as he gets close...

The time is not now...Leave it to Harris for now...

He grabs Parker's bow and wrenches it away...

Parker backs off...

"Get out of here..." Angel snarls at him...

Run...Go, you moron...he hisses...Watch from down the street if you want but move it...

Parker runs off...

"Mr....Harris?..." Travers eyes Xander coolly...

"Kindly explain yourself...And what you mean by this...?"

This is no time for foolishness...the Chairman frowns...

Xander catches his breath, glaring at Wesley and Cordelia holding on to his bow...

"That monster has done something to Buffy...Enthralled her, bit her, love-spelled her...I don't know
what...But she's gone and married him...Ask her..."

Wes and Cordy stare back at Buffy...

"Is this true...Slayer?..." Travers turns back to look at her...

Another car pulls in...Anya...

"Xander!..." she runs over...

Sorry folks...she eyes the group in general...

Excitable fellow and all around good brother, my feller...she notes...

He sighs...An...

"Cordelia?...Congrats on your wedding by the way..." Anya calls...

Yeah...Cordelia looks at Angel...A slight trace of bitterness...

Thanks...

Yet another car comes up...A taxi, bearing Giles and Willow...

"Rupert?..." Travers stares at him...

"I thought you weren't flying in until tomorrow..." he pauses...

"Giles!..." Buffy waves... "Hi, Willow!...Guys you're just in time..."

We're too late...Willow glumly realizes, seeing Buffy hovering by her Will...And beaming at
him...Even as she casts worried looks at the others...

"Guys..." Buffy calls to the group, taking William's hand as he stands beside her...

"Come on in and let me explain all of this...Please, Xander..." she eyes her "big brother"...

Hmmn...Willow thinks, staring at Ms. Walthrop-Hunt standing by Travers, and likewise staring at
William...

She looks familiar...Odd...If I didn't know better and I don't...I'd almost say she was a relative
of ...

Oh my God...she eyes William...

***
Scene six (inside the Summers' living room)...

Willow, Wesley, Cordelia, Travers, and Ms. Walthrop-Hunt seated, on sofa and various chairs...

Angel standing by the fireplace...Giles on the other side of the mantlepiece also standing...

William and Buffy face the others...Hand in hand...Dawn supportively beside them...

William sighs...

"Look...Mr. Chairman, Rupert, all of you...It is true...I have married Buffy...Or rather..." he wryly
grins at her...

She's married...Or remarried...Me...

Re...Married?...Wesley eyes them...

Xander fumes...

"But there is a story...And things have changed for me...And her..."

"Please...Guys...Listen to us..." Buffy pleaded...Squeezing William's hand...

"William's soul never completely left Spike...He's hung on for more than a century...For love of
me...And now, thank God, he's back in control...Permanently..."

And I came back...In part...For love of him...
Even if I didn't realize it at the time...she pauses, smiling at her new...Or old...Husband...

"Are we supposed to fall for this?...Guys...She's enthralled, look at her!..." Xander cries...

"Not enthralled, Xander...Well not exactly..." Buffy smiles to him...

In love...And happy at last...she notes...

Travers eyes Giles...

"Rupert...? What's your opinion?..."

I think...Giles sighs...

I think we should hear their story...he eyes a grateful Buffy...

Who nods...

"Well...It all started back in 1880...In London..." she begins...

When my cousin Henry invited William to the house one day...

Cousin...Henry...? Willow eyes her...

And when did the Summers live in...? Oh...

18..not 19...80...

Whoa...

(For the Cicely story, you may want to read "Romance Palace"
www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/rp1.html or just check the Cicelyverse main page,
www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html )

***

The gang stares at each other as Buffy concludes her tale of 1880 with the deaths of William and
Cicely...And their joint rebirths and rediscoveries of each other...

My god...Willow thinks...

And only Riley ever suspected the truth...All this time...

Xander stares at his hands...And occasionally at Buffy...

So...That time in the crypt...When she was invisible...And with him...

Was the real thing...he shakes his head...

Lucky Buffy...Cordy thinks...Eyeing her Angel...

"And knowing him again...As my sweet Will...My beloved husband...How can I ignore my
heart?...And his sufferings...?"...Buffy eyes her Watcher...

Giles...Mr. Travers...I...

I need the Council's support on this...I know they'll be gunning for my Will...

I know...she waves a hand...This isn't 1880...And the Council would be saving me from Spike, not
handing my defenseless husband over to my worst enemy to preserve their hold on me...

Again...

But...Will is free at last...And I won't go on without him...

I've been of some service to the Council...And Humanity...And they damned well oughta know it...

And if they respect that...Then I'm begging...I am demanding...They leave my husband and me be...

And for our part we will forget what's past...In Cicely's past...

Otherwise...

"I'm ready to do whatever it takes to keep my husband...And my family safe..."

I won't fail him again...

She eyes them squarely...

"But don't think..." she pauses... "That this is simply pity..." she eyes William...

I loved William Walthrop in 1880...I never stopped loving him...Even if the years and death...My
several deaths...Took their toll on my memory...

"We were and are...Meant to be..."

And will be...No matter what anyone may think...

Or try to do...she eyes Xander...

"Much as I love you all...I will take my husband and go...If you force me to..."

Will...? she turns to him...

"All I can add to what my wife..." Xander gives a slight groan... Will eyeing him... "Has said...Is that
what she's told you is the truth...And that I love her, always...And I will undergo any test or trial, do
whatever you ask of me to do to prove it..." Buffy eyes him...Will?...

"Except...Leave her..." he smiles at her...Nodding at Dawn...Who likewise faces the group, squarely
besides her sis...And brother-in-law...

"Are you prepared to let us test you now?..." Travers eyes him...

A soul summons is not difficult and will confirm that your soul is here...he notes...

Yes...William nods...

"Before we begin...May I introduce my fellow Council member..." Amelia looks up...

"Ms. Amelia Walthrop-Hunt...Your great-great-great-great grandniece, William..." Travers
smiles...And one of our best trainees...

Niece...Grand times four?...William stares...

"Hello uncle..." Amelia smiles gently at him...

***
"Well...William..." Angel nods at him...Testing successfully completed...

Congratulations...You have to give me the name and address of that demon god...

Eh, Cordy?...he smiles at his wife...

Yeah...Cordy looks at him...

And away...

"Uncle...I'm proud of you..." Amelia beams at him...Pressing his and Buffy's hand in turn...

I want you to know...Those of us in the family who knew...Prayed for you...she eyes him...

"Thank you...Amelia..." William smiles...

That was my sister's name, you know...he pauses...

Yes...Ms. Walthrop-Hunt nods...And you should know she loved you till the day she died...

"She and your brother had your poems published privately...Did you know that?"

Oh, Lord...Will rolls his eyes...

"Sins of the past back to haunt me..." he smiles at Buffy...

"Oh, Will...We have to get a copy..." an eager Buffy turns to Amelia...

Are there any around?...

"I have one...I'll send it to you..." Amelia grins...

They're not bad, Uncle...Most were rather good...

"Except perhaps...The...Effulgent one..."

"I loved that one..." Buffy insists, with a slight frown...

"Slayer, Mr. Walthrop..." Chairman Travers brings the little party back to the issue at hand...

Mr. Walthrop...Will's face shows a little wonder...

Been quite a long time, he quietly notes to his beaming wife...

***
The situation, based on the information provided by our friends from LA is grave...Travers
notes...As the party regroups as a strategy conference...

"Slayer...You faced one hell-god last time...The Wolfram-Hart senior partners appear to be about to
release five from their imprisonments...At once..."

Bringing forth the Apocalypse...If they can succeed...

Apocalypse and then some...Willow notes...

And the head partner...Joseph...Is already making his final preparations...Travers notes...

Five Glories?...Dawn eyes Buffy...

"Bed, Dawny..." Buffy points...

Geesch...So much for bringing me into the business...Dawn grumbles as she trudges off...

Well..I was the matron of honor...she brightens as she starts up...

"Will...?" she calls back...Eyeing him...

Congrats...Bro...she waves...

"And...Welcome to the family..." Smiling as she heads up the stairs...

He nods, smiling wanly back...The wonder of it all still clinging to him...

***
The plans are laid...A direct assault is the best hope...

The combined LA-Sunnydale forces consisting of the Walthrops, Angel, and his AI team will move
immediately to LA with Giles, Wesley, Cordelia, and Willow, temporarily back in the magics
business...Hopefully only as a consultant, Giles stressing...in close support...

Chairman Travers will stay in Sunnydale, ready with additional Council support if necessary to take
the drastic step of tapping the Hellmouth's energy to stop the demon gods if all else fails, while
providing advice to Xander, Anya, and Dawn in monitoring Sunnydale while the main team is
away...

William's first outing as his wife's Watcher...Honorary status conferred by the Chairman until he can
receive the formal training in England...

An English honeymoon, courtesy of the Council for their Slayer's more than deserving efforts...And
by way of what little restitution can be made for the activities of the evil Watcher Chairman who
brought the Walthrops such suffering in 1880...

***
"Angel..." Buffy stares at him...In a moment aside as the gang prepares to head out...

I hope you weren't disappointed...About...

"It was only an idea Buffy...Mr. Travers suggested it when he called to warn me of Joseph's
plans...Hardly would've been practical, after all...Me being your new local Watcher while Giles
oversees from England..."

Of course, bitch...he darkly notes within...It would've have probably secured my ticket through those
pearly gates to have Watcher Council support for my redeemed status...

"It's only natural you'd want William as your Watcher..." he smiles at her...

He's here with you and now...You and he are one...

Again...At last...

"And you know me...I'm the lone wolf type...Gotta run my own show..." he grins...

Cordy staring for a moment...Then looking away...

And will...The whole show...Once I deal with you, Buffy...he thinks...And your little poet...

"Well...I appreciate it Angel..." she kisses him on the cheek...

And I'll never forget you...And what we had...

"William can deal..." she winks at Angel...

Considering his past hundred year companions...she grins at him...Will sheepishly smiling at
Angel...

"I hope you find as much happiness as safely possible with Cordy now...And one day a chance for
perfect happiness ..." Buffy nods over at Cordy, standing by Wes...

Wes, hearing, eyes Angel a bit...Coolly...

Which Willow catches...Hmmn...

Marriage to an Angel not quite what it's cracked up to be?...

"Thanks...Cicely...And Buffy..." Angel smiles wanly at her...

"Or should I say...Mrs. Summers-Walthrop..." he grins a bit...Buffy smiling back...

I'll never forget you either...bitch...he frowns, unseen...By all but his wife...At the Slayer as she turns
away...

And believe me...You really will never forget me...When I've done with you...

***
Act Two

Scene one...(LA, night with heavy thunderstorms in progress outside, inside the Well of Souls hell
portal in the sub-basement of a certain law firm's office tower...)

Lilah Morgan, distinguished attorney at law and leading light of Wolfram-Hart, Inc. stands by the
dank pit of the Well of Souls...Listening to the howls and moans issuing up from below...

"Joseph!?...Are you ready?..." she calls a tad nervously...

Faint sounds of a heavy thunderstorm outside echo through the caverns around the Well...

Joseph, senior partner of Wolfram-Hart, Inc...Currently the partner assigned to run the firm from
Earth...Emerges from a small structure where the key implements for use of the Well are
kept...Normally a bald, death's-headed, short figure his features are hidden by the large mask and
headdress he wears for the ceremony to free the imprisoned hell-gods...Mask and headdress rather
African in style...Frightening enough...If one were a young teen or younger, seeing it for the first
time...

However, for Lilah...

She chuckles...

"God...What the hell is that?..."

Joseph is annoyed...Bad enough the other partners are so inclined to drag their feet on this one...One
which he feels certain...Almost...This time...Is sure to bring about a successful Apocalypse...

Worse, they'd insisted on evacuating all important or valuable materials and key personnel...Leaving
him only the support of dear Lilah...

And of course...their special operative...

Providing Drusilla could remember to come...

***
He frowns at his single human "support staff"...Removing the mask to reveal his death's head
features...

Now that was a little frightening...

"This...My dear..." Joseph grouses... "Is the Face of the God...(Well, ok...god)...Xeniphon..."

Lord of the interdimension...

"You mean the guy who runs the transits between the multiverses...?" Lilah asks...

You make him sound like a transit authority director...Joseph frowns...

"He controls the gateways to our imprisoned friends...And it is he who will allow us to release
them...To this world...In just a few hours..." he gloats...

"And then they start the Apocalypse...?" Lilah looks at her boss...

Finally...she does not say...

Yes...Joseph nods eagerly, recovering a bit of his high spirits at the thought...

"The five imprisoned hell gods will burst forth on Earth...And leave nothing but destruction in their
wake..." he grins...

And we want this threat to property values...Why?...Lilah thinks...

But, as a loyal employee, she listens attentively as Joseph launches into his game plan outline...

He will offer sacrifice to Xeniphon who will in return for a promise of countless victims to be
delivered to him...Plus a hefty chunk of each hell-god's energy reserve...Release these five hell-gods
so long imprisoned between dimensions...
"How did these guys get imprisoned...Anyway?..." Lilah asks, genuinely curious...And cautious...

If this latest plan follows true to course...It's likely they'll have Angel to deal with again...And she'd
like to know if these clowns really have what it takes...Being at the center of any potential action
and all...

"They once acted as gods on Earth..." Joseph explains... "You know the old Greek, Roman, etc gods
with their passions and wanton cruelty..."

"Well...They fought among themselves...And Humanity turned against them...And with the help of
the Slayer and gifted magics practioners...Over time the ones who survived the wars amongst them
were imprisoned between the dimensions..."

So these guys were beaten...By the Slayers and a few human magicians?...Lilah notes dryly...

Great...That really fills me with confidence...she thinks...

No wonder the other partners didn't want in on this one...

"Well..." Joseph frowns... "It was one at a time...Over thousands of years..."

See these fellows never really learned the knack of working together...

"However...The years of imprisonment in their various dimensions have mellowed them...They've
agreed to work as a team..."

A triumph of diplomacy...he can't resist noting...Being the diplomat...

And each one alone is nearly as powerful as Glorificus was...he continues...

"Nearly as powerful?..." Lilah frowns...

How near is...Nearly?...

Well...Joseph thinks...About three-fifth's if my history and our energy data's correct...

"Ah...So...To face Angel and the help he's gone to get...We have three Glory's worth of gods...Not
five..." Lilah notes... "If they work together...Which they've never actually done in the past, right?..."

Oh...I be liking this less and less...she thinks...

"Three Glories should be more than sufficient, dear...Remember the Slayer was killed by a single
such..."

Way I heard it...She whipped the goddess' rear end then died more or less trying to clean up the
loose odds and ends...Lilah did not say...

The key point however...She did mention...

"Joseph, the Slayer came back...Glory...Didn't..."

And what if Angel gets her help?...We know the Council of Watchers is sending assistance, maybe
their Chairman himself...

"Hapless victims, Lilah...Practice dummies for our gods to flex their muscles with..."

Uh-huh...

Well...Take your station...Joseph urges her...We must hurry now...The storm overhead will give us
just the energy we need to reach Xeniphon and make our first energy payment...he notes, busily
setting out his makeup and tools for the ceremony...

"Release the kites, Lilah!..." Joseph cries...

She pulls a switch on a podium near the Well...From the rooftop of the office tower huge metal kites
soar up into the sky on cables towards the thunderheads...

Hmmn...

Are we opening a hell portal?...Or juicing up the Bride of Frankenstein?...she wonders to herself...

"Help me smear my body with this sacred paint from the yucca-yucca tree..." he hands a pot of
stinking pitch to her...

Appropriate...she twists her nose in disgust...

The things I do to earn $500, 000 per annum after taxes...she grouses to herself...

And I just know he's enjoying making me do this...she frowns...

All over...Joseph insists...A sly, slight grin unmistakably creeping over his death's head face...

Right...Lilah glowers...

***


Act Two...

Scene two...(LA, the offices of Angel Investigations, night, heavy thunderstorm raging outside)

William enters with Angel, Willow, Giles, Gunn, Fred, Connor, and Cordelia...

"Red...How soon before Buffy and Wesley get back from their scout?..." he frets to Willow...
Give them a few minutes, Will...Willow smiles at him...William the Nervous Bridegroom...

"It would have taken them at least this long just to reach Wolfram-Hart on foot..." she notes, Cordy
agreeing...

"I should have gone out after them..." he shakes his head...

Why didn't Buffy wait for me?...

"Spike...er Will..." Willow pauses...

They were right...One of you guys was enough to risk at this stage...It's only the preliminary scout
after all...And they were already here...

"Willow's right William...There'd be no point in too many heading out at this stage..." Giles nods...

Better get used to it, kiddo...Willow smiles at him...

You married a Slayer, you know...Mr. Watcher...

Will nods...Sighing...Yeah...

"It wouldn't be any fairer to her...For her to be waiting and worrying here for you..." she added...

And that will be happening...Often enough in your lives...Willow pats his hand, William smiling
wanly back at her...

"Don't worry Will..." Cordelia smiles at him... "Wes knows Wolfram-Hart like the back of his
hand...And Buffy can deal with anything they're likely to have right now..."

"Cordy's right, Will..." Angel nods from his desk, Unmanning the phones... "Wesley knows the
whole city...And most everyone in it...Like the back of his hand..."

Cordy glancing briefly at her husband...Who gives back an innocent stare...She looks away...

Willow slips over to her...

Angel turns to his staff...Noting Gunn eyeing William...

"Yeah, Gunn...This is the William...Formerly the Bloody...Now human-souled Walthrop..."

"Sorry..." Angel turns to the others... "I haven't had a chance to make introductions yet...William,
Giles, Willow, my old friends from Sunnydale...My Connor, you know...And these are Gunn and
Fred, two of my best operatives..." he smiles at the two...

"Glad to have you and the Slayer with us on this one..." Gunn nods at the Sunnydalers...

"Dad said he was getting the best..." Connor chimes in, smiling...

"Yeah..." Angel nods... "And Buffy...And company are the very best..." he grins...

Right, Cordy?...he smiles at his wife...Just a bit coolly...

She nods quietly, staring back...

A surprisingly shy William is now surrounded by a fascinated Gunn, Fred, and Connor, asking a
steady stream of questions...Giles wryly standing beside him as defensive moral support, much to his
own bemusement...

"So..." Willow has reached Cordy, smiling at her...

"How are things these days?...I understand we've both had something of a wild ride recently..."

Good...Cordy notes tersely...

I didn't quite make the cut on the "higher plane" existence...It was just too lonely on that
mountaintop...

"You must have felt something of that, Willow..." she eyes her...

Yeah..I did...Willow nods...When I wasn't too busy trying to do what your friends at W-H seem to
be up to...she grins sheepishly...

"Lucky to have the guys...Xander and Giles especially...To bring me back safe..." she looks at
Cordy...

Yeah...Cordy nods...

"Of course..." she pauses... "Angel can't be too demonstrative, naturally...But he's a very good
husband...And provider..."

Connor's a great kid...In spite of everything that's happened...she nods over at Connor, eagerly
engaged in getting the details of William's life story...

So...Things are good...Cordelia concludes...

"Yeah..." Willow notes kindly...Eyeing her friend...

William casts a somewhat desperate glance her way...Help?...His slightly stricken look says...As a
few other AI staffers join the group around him...

"'Cuse me..." she grins at Cordy, nodding towards William...

Elvis back from the dead needs rescuing from his fans...she smiles...
She heads over, parting the group, and takes Will's hand...He whispers a question in her ear...

Angel watches them from his desk, deep in thought...

That's it...he thinks...Take his hand...Let him give you a lil' whisper in the ear...Who else would he
turn to but good ole Willow, the girl he nearly transformed...

A lot can be built out of a few rags and bits like these...he notes to himself with
satisfaction...Especially if you fan the flames just a little...

As I did when I suggested Will consult Willow about Darla's resurrection on the way over...

He's got a soul now, sure...But why not go for the brass ring?...Full Humanity...

He wouldn't want to stay Immortally young while his Buffy ages and crumbles back into
dust...Certainly not...

Not to mention...For all our Immortality we vamps are rather fragile creatures...Buffy would be so
broken-hearted if he took a splinter in the wrong place and went "poof" one day...

And he can't be sure about kiddies...Mustn't take any chances of possibly bringing something evil
into the world...Via his sweet Cicely-Buffy...

And sweet, dear, lonely Willow is just the person to turn to...

To help him give his Buffy a wedding Gift to remember...

Give that hand a leetle squeeze, Willow...That's it...Great...he thinks, smiling benevolently at the
group in general...

Done as if by order...Thanks, guys...he thinks...Continuing his affectionate smile...

But a hard, cold look in his eyes...

***
Act two...

Scene three...(A tunnel leading to the Wolfram-Hart tower sub-basement, dank, but with some low-
level lighting...)

Buffy, followed closely by Wes, enters...

"Just ahead is the entrance to the sub-basement, Buffy...I think once we'd best hold up there for a bit
and check out the alarm systems...They continually upgrade to keep us and others out..."

The storm can very faintly be heard raging outside...

"No guards in the tunnels...That's odd..." Wesley notes...

They usually don't slip up on the little things like that...Must have withdrawn all non-essential
personnel...he eyes Buffy...

"Joseph must be nearly ready..."

She nods...They reach the door...

Wesley begins checking it out with his equipment...

Alarmed...But nothing special, technically...Oops...

"Spell barrier..." he notes...

She eyes the door...Frame hewn out of the rock...About half a dozen feet of flat rock wall to either
side of the door...

"Where does the barrier end?..." she asks...

It's just on the door itself...Wes notes...I'll give Giles a call...

Wait...Ok...Stand back...she orders...And runs hard at the rock around the frame...Kicking it...

On her third try, she breaks through to the sub-basement, a small, head-sized hole...She tears hard at
the now loosened rock until the space is barely wide enough to squeeze though...

"No need to waste time or risk being detected calling Giles..." she grins...

After you, she bows to her partner...Wesley shaking his head in smiling wonder...

***

Act two...

Scene four...(At The Well of Souls...)

Joseph, properly smeared with yucca-yucca paint and mask in place, is rehearsing his ceremonial
dance...Lilah a reluctant audience...

He finishes...With a little bit of ballet-like flourish...

Lovely, Lilah dryly notes...

"So...We ready now?..."

Joseph nods...But looks around...Just one thing...
"Drusilla should be here by now...To keep an eye out..." he frowns...

"I can't understand why you hired her...She's an utter psycho..." Lilah grouses...

Just trying to help the poor kid out...She's been asking for a chance to earn a few bucks doing a little
work for us...the senior partner looks away...

God...Has he been sleeping with her?...Lilah wonders...Talk about abuse of the mentally
incompetent...

"Anyway she's all the extra support I could get the others to agree to commit..."Joseph notes...

Hmmn...Right...Lilah thinks...

I'm sure that crazy maniac and her doll will tip the scales decisively in our favor...
***

Act Two...

Scene five...(The sub-basement of the Wolfram-Hart office tower)...

Enter Buffy cautiously looking round, Wesley following....

"Which way, Wes?..." she asks...

He frowns...The Slayer on her usual heedless charge against evil is all very well, but their mission
was to scout the defenses...

A point which he makes even as he indicates the way...

"I just wanna scope things out a little more...Then we can call the others in..."

William would not care to lose his wife on his wedding night, Wes notes...

"My wedding night..." Buffy pauses, beaming at her friend...

I'd almost forgot...she smiles...

Well...I will take it slow, Wesley...she promises...

Lets just see how things are over towards the Well and then we'll back off...

"All right..." he sighs...

They creep along, emergency lights allowing them to find their way...

"This is it..." Wes points out a door...
"Looks like a door to a broom closet, not a Hell portal..." Buffy grins...

It's the direct route to the Well...Wes tells her solemnly...

O...K...she nods...Well...So far, so good...

"Check it out...Then we'll give the guys a ring..."

***

Act Two...

Scene six...(Angel Investigations offices, night, storm continuing
outside...)

William and Willow have sought a moment alone from the others, engaged in a strategy
discussion...

At Will's request, to discuss a matter close to his heart...Buffy's happiness...

"Red...I suppose you and the gang...Still have doubts..." he begins...

Doubts, Will?...After you wedded our Slayer following a courtship of exactly one day before the
return of your soul was even properly confirmed?...How could we possibly have had any
doubts?...Willow grins at him...

"Excepting Xander of course...But he's the big brother..."

I didn't want or expect things to move so quickly...Will hesitantly notes...

"I just wanted to see her again...And tell her what had happened..."

And all it took her was one look...Willow thinks...A single moment back with him...

"Of course you lot should know...She was ready to let me have it when I showed my head...At
first..."

And then her Cicely came rushing back in on her to save you...God, William Walthrop you must
have been quite a guy...And be quite a soul...Willow thinks...

"But then she realized...And remembered..." he pauses...Blinking at the memory...

And couldn't wait...Even a full day...

"Well...Will..." Willow eyes him... "Giles and Travers have confirmed your soul...And that Buffy's
not enthralled or drugged...And her Cicely story has checked out according to Council
records...So...I guess that's that..."
And we are happy for you...Both of you...

"I want more, Willow..." He eyes her...

"Buffy deserves more...Look, Angel told me that Darla was resurrected as a completely normal
human being."

Ah...So that's it...Willow looks at him...Touched...

"Will...You realize...You would have to die and be resurrected..."

Been there, done that...he smiles...Not as tough as some would have you believe...

"There could be serious complications with regards to your demon and all...We don't have the full
ceremony yet but we weren't even sure about it for Angel..."

I understand...He stares at her... "But if there's any chance...That I could be human again...A real
man, not a soul trapped in a monster's body..."

For his Buffy...his Cicely...He's willing to risk everything, Willow thinks...

So it was William...All this time...Fighting his way back, reaching out to her from within Spike...

My god...

Hmmn...Rather nice to know there are still two great Brits available in our little family...And I'm
already boarding with the better of them...No offense intended Wes, strictly experiencewise...

"If I could get the ceremony...While we're here and while we are gonna be on the inside of W-H
anyway..." he hesitates...

"If we can get the ceremony, Will..." Willow smiles at him... "I'll look it over...With Giles...And
we'll do what we can..."

"Don't let Buf know...Not just yet..." he eyes her... "I don't want to get her hopes raised too soon..."

A wedding present...Willow thinks, tears forming a bit...As she nods...

Yeah...

She'd love it...I'm sure...

***
Act Two...

Scene seven...(At the sub-basement door of the Wolfram-Hart office tower, leading to the Well...)

Buffy watches Wes as he checks the door...

"Alarmed...But nothing else..." he smiles at her...

However...It's a half-mile down through this tunnel to the well...And you can bet there's no shortage
of booby-traps...Although...he eyes his thermal detectors...

"I'm not picking up much in the way of humans or demons or any warm-blooded life forms..." Wes
shakes his head...

Maybe two...Three at most...They must've pulled all their people out...

Time to call for back-up...she grins...Pulling her cell phone...

"And then lets get this door off...And do a leetle more scouting..."

Wes grins back at her...

Well...she smiles, waiting for the call to go through...

It's our chance to show off before the gang gets here...And it's my wedding night, Wes...I wanna get
some of it free...

"Besides...Admit it...Underneath all that Watcher caution...You love being first man in..."

Buffy...Wes smiling, puts up a hand...But nods as she begins speaking into the phone...Ok...

"Right, Angel..." Buffy continues...

We're gonna check things out a bit more...But you guys should have no problem reaching us down
here...See ya soon...

"Tell Will the Missus expects him to behave himself...And get his little blonde bottom over to her
pronto..." she finishes...

Well?...she eyes her friend...Shall we?...

"This is strictly as a present for you and your Will, Buffy..." Wes grins...

So you two can get down to the important business of this night...

He begins work on disarming the alarm...

***

Act two...

Scene eight...(At the Well of Souls...A few minutes later...)

Joseph triumphantly concludes his ceremony...Xeniphon having indicated his willingness to accept a
deal...

"We've done it Lilah!...The Apocalypse is at hand..."

Five blue lights appear hovering over the Well's opening...

Vague faces forming...

"Greetings..." Joseph smiles at them...

"I am Joseph...Your host..."

Welcome to Earth...

Lilah...he hisses...You might want to turn away...One of the females was the model for Medusa...

Lilah hastily turns round...Didn't really care to see these guys anyway...she thinks...

"We have come, demon..." Miranda the original Medusan model stares at Joseph...

I speak for the five...We return from our rest at great cost...Show us our reward...

Rest?...Thinks Lilah...They don't seem all that grateful to be "released"...

"Earth is at your feet, my friends..." Joseph beams...

You have only to take full physical form...Emerge from the Well...Defeat the minor opposition
brought out against you...

"What...Opposition...?" Miranda cuts to the heart of Joseph's patter...

Well...At most...The famed Angel...Joseph begins...And his staff...

"Angel?...Oh, yes...Saw him in action from my den..." one of the other five notes...

I suppose that's not too...the god, one Loka, eyes Joseph...Twisting one of his four eye stalks...

"And..." Joseph continues... "Possibly the Slayer...And some minor magics performing humans..."

Oh...Miranda eyes him...

"The Slayer...Who defeated Glorificus recently?..." she asks...

Yes...Joseph replies brightly...
Your chance for revenge...he notes...

"I never cared much for Glory...That hysterical tramp..." Miranda shakes her heads...

And...Joseph resumes...

"There's more?..." Miranda looks at the little demon lawyer...

She does not sound full of enthusiasm and rage for this little scheme, Lilah notes to herself...As she
remains turned around...

"Just the ridiculous Council of Watchers, my goddess..." Joseph beams his most winning smile...

Possibly led by their Chairman...

"The Council of Watchers...?...THE Council of Watchers...And their Chairman...?"

Well...Yeah...Joseph nods...We believe they're here in LA now...With the others I mentioned...

So...Close at hand, easy targets...he notes...Trying to stir up a leetle enthusiasm...

"How...Close?" Miranda eyes him with one of her heads...

I sense the Slayer nearby...Loka notes...A little anxiously...

"You haven't even completed our materialization and the Slayer and her friends are almost here?"
Miranda stares at Joseph...

Ummn...Well...

He thinks fast...As becoming senior partner in a major LA firm...

"The Slayer will be distracted oh divine ones...She has just married..."

Buffy's married?...Lilah wonders...

How could she do that to Angel?...The poor sob...she thinks involuntary...

Yeah, one of the others among the five notes...She just remarried her true soulmate...The late, great
William the Bloody, now soul-restored...

Saw it on Xeniphon's daily news digest...he explains to his companions...

***

"Wait a minute..." Miranda looks at Joseph...

"You want us to face off with Angel, the Slayer, and a human-souled William the Bloody...With
magic support and heavy back-up from the Council of Watchers?"

Nobody said anything about this when you people contacted us...another of the five chimed in...

Joseph nervously grins at the five hell-demon gods...

"Well...I admit it might be tough odds all things considered...But hey, the Apocalypse is worth a
little..."

Apocalypse?...a couple of the demon gods look at each other...

What Apocalypse...?

"I just wanted to get out and see Earth..." Theodosius, a large and burly demon-god eyes Joseph...

"I haven't seen the place in the flesh in six thousand years...Haven't even had a chance to see New
York or Paris yet..." he grouses...

And you want to start the Apocalypse...?

"No one said anything about any crazy Apocalypse plan..." Miranda notes firmly...

Yeah...the others look at a now very nervous Joseph...

"Or the opposition we'd face..." she continues...

We'd be expending a hell's worth of energy just getting out...All so we can be used as target practice
by your enemies?...she frowns at the WH senior partner...

And even if we win...It's all for some damned fool Apocalypse plan?...Gerd...a dark and grim?
looking fellow, rather like the Grim Reaper portrayals, notes...In an annoyed tone...

The hell with this...I like the world...Screw you and your "plan"...the demon-gods variously sneer...

"We'll be going..." Miranda coldly eyes Joseph...

Call us if you ever come up with something sensible...Like maybe a little pillage and a night on the
town...

Paris, preferably...Theodosius notes...

Without informing the Slayer and your Angel friend that we're coming, please...Miranda
concludes...

"But...People...You can't abandon the field to the forces of Light like this..." Joseph cries...

It's...Embarrassing...How can you look yourselves in the mirror tomorrow and say "we backed
down"...he puts on his best "win one for the Gipper..." look...

How could they look themselves in the mirror under any circumstances?...Lilah thinks...

"Lets just say..." Miranda coldly eyes Joseph...

"Evil finally has a few brains this time..."

The five began dissolving out...

"You know what they say about these Wolfram-Hart clowns..." Miranda quietly notes to her friends
as they disappear...

"Mao, Joseph, and Adolf...the Three Stooges of the Apocalypse..."

The others' chuckling can be heard on the wings of the wind that blows now through the cavern ...

Hmmn...Lilah thinks...

Joseph was right...The five really have learned to get along...

***

Well...? Lilah eyes Joseph...

What now, boss...

Ah...Joseph kicks the wall sourly...

"Guess we'd best get the hell out of here before the Slayer and Angel and co show..." he sighs...

Of course...he eyes his Special Projects Division head...

"The evening doesn't have to be a total loss...Lilah...My dear..." Joseph leers...

Oh...Well...she smiles back...

If you really want to lose the firm to me in a sexual harassment lawsuit...she notes...For one night of
bliss...

He blinks...

"Damnit girl, I'm an Immortal from Hell...You think you can frighten me with that?..."

Of course...he thinks...I wouldn't want to lose my nice corner office...With that great view...

And if I did lose the firm, I'd never be able to party with Mel Gibson, Meryl Streep, and the other
guys again...

And Wynona was coming on to me last time...I'm sure of it...

Oh, well...

"I suppose we should just go..." he grumbles...Glaring at her...

"You know I could've just let you go on and try something...Then slapped you with the suit..."
Lilah points out...

But I still want to learn from you, sir...she notes...

"I know you're the best..."

Well...Joseph is somewhat mollified...

"Wouldn't be adverse to a little dinner..." she quietly notes, smiling...

Nothing else...she eyes him firmly...

O...K...he sighs...

At least we'll be seen together...Never hurts a bald, death-head's little guy like me's rep to be seen
with a beauty like Lilah...he notes to himself...

And a very engaging dinner companion...

He offers an arm and they begin to head out...

Oh...Lilah pauses...

What about?...

"Drusilla?...Screw her...At least she'll give Angel and the others a little trouble when she shows..."
Joseph notes...

***

***
Act Two...

Scene nine...(The sub-basement of the Wolfram-Hart office tower, night, sounds of a raging
thunderstorm faintly heard in the distance...)

William, Willow, Angel, Giles, Connor, Gunn, and several staffers enter...
"They should be just ahead...Down the corridor..." Gunn points...

"Are you sensing anything, Giles?..." Angel looks at the Watcher...Who has paused with Willow to
focus his mind on the area ahead of them...

Nothing beyond what I'd expect at a place like the Well of Souls, Angel...he replies...

But no signs of unusual or extraordinary power unleashed...

"We may have come before they were ready..." Gunn notes...

They reach the door to the final tunnel to the Well...Forced open...

Damn!...William sighs, eyeing Giles and Angel...But can't help a grin...

That's my girl...

My God...That's...My wife...He thinks in shock...And joy...

"She's gone on ahead without waiting for us..." he notes...

I'd have thought Wesley knew better...Giles sighs in turn...

"Well..." Angel smiles thinly... "Wes has become a man who enjoys taking risks..."

Of all sorts...he notes...Eyeing his son...

Dad?...I thought we were past that...Connor thinks...

***

They enter the tunnel through the door, single file...And begin a cautious march forward...

Gradually getting a bit separated...

"Try to keep together folks..." Angel calls back from the head of the line...

"Willow..." Willow hears faintly as she brings up the rear with Giles, he about ten feet ahead...

"Giles...? Did you hear that?..." she calls to him...

"Is that Buffy calling us?..." she looks up the tunnel past him...

"I didn't hear it, Willow..." Giles calls back, pausing...

Perhaps it was...he notes...But we should try to catch up with the others...

She nods and they pick up their pace a bit...Reaching Connor who's halted with the other AI
staffers...

"Dad and Gunn called back to hold up here...Someone's coming from the Well area..." he explains...

"I should head up to them..." Giles notes...

Ummn...Willow looks at him...

Does not sound like my idea of a plan, Rupert...she thinks...

"They may need my help Willow..." he smiles at her...

It is why we came out here, you know...

"Oh...Gee, I thought we came to surprise our newlyweds with a trip to see the LA sights..." Willow
grins at him...

"Well...Lets go..." she says brightly...

I should go alone, my dear...Giles eyes her...You are, after all, our last hope...Here in Los Angeles
anyway...

"Connor, take good care of her..."

"No...Wait here Giles...They'll call us if they need you..." Willow hastily turns to him...

Please...oh, please Rupert...she thinks...I can't lose you too...

"I'll be back shortly, Willow..."

Giles...she looks at him...The words trembling on her lips...Words that might change everything for
them, if he didn't dismiss them as the loving affection of a devoted pupil, a second daughter after
Buffy...

If she could just say them...As she wants to...In a way that will make him believe her...And if she
could just...

Forget...

"Take care..." she calls as he heads out...

My love...she does not say...

***
Wesley comes into view from the far end of the tunnel as Angel and Gunn take up defensive
positions...
"Hey, fellows...It looks like everything's set...The hell-gods either weren't willing to stay or
Joseph's ceremony fizzled..."

What?...Gunn and Angel look at each other...

"Buffy's making a final sweep around the Well...But all seems well and the energy emissions are
back to normal..." Wes beams...

"Giles, hello...Good news..." he happily calls to the Watcher just entering the area...

So...Angel thinks...Looks like I no longer need wait on my little scheme...The fighting skills of the
Slayer and her poet are no longer necessary...

***


Act Two...

Scene ten...(Back up the tunnel leading to the Well of Souls in the Wolfram-Hart tower sub-
basement...)

Willow, Connor, and several AI staffers await news...Willow preparing herself for the possibility of
carrying out one last major magics assault as LA's "last hope"...

Connor's cell phone rings...

"Dad?...Dad...I can't make you out...Let me try to get closer..."

Connor turns to Willow...The rock, electrical stuff, and probably the mumbo-jumbo up ahead are
blocking my phone...Hafta try getting closer...Couldn't make out much...

But he didn't seem too worried...

Go...Willow nods...And take the guys with you...I'll be fine back here...

"Back in just a mo..." Connors nods...He and all but one staffer leave...

"Wil...low..." the faint call begins again...

"Do you hear that?..." Willow eyes the staffer

"Willow...?"

The staffer, human, shakes her head...But is not unused to her superiors hearing voices...

Who sometimes take brutally vicious form...The staffer stiffens and looks around cautiously...

Whoa...The staffer stares...And pulls up her ready crossbow...

Willow turns behind her in the direction the staffer is looking...Oh my God...

"Willow, let me exp..."

The staffer fires her crossbow, the arrow passing right through...

Drusilla...

"Save those for my counterpart..." the ghostly Drusilla notes...

She's almost here...


***
Act Two...

Scene eleven...(By the Well of Souls, just off the Wolfram-Hart tower sub-basement...)

Buffy strolls cautiously around the outer rim of the Well...Looks like people...A very few
people...Just up and left a short time ago...

God...She spots Joseph's mask...What the hell were they trying to do with that thing?...Go Trick or
Treating in Hell?...

Looking an awful lot like...Scratch yet another Apocalypse plan...

And hello LA honeymoon, she notes, happily...

Oops...Something's closing in...Rapidly...she senses...

Vampiral...And not my honey or my ex...

"Mr. Joseph?!..." Drusilla calls...From a continuing segment of the tunnel past the Well...

Sorry to be late...Miss Edith insisted on seeing some nice new clothes in a toy shop around the corner
and...She hastens up...Not pausing to feel out the ground...

"Oh...Hello, Buffy..." Dru eyes her...

Have you killed Joseph and his hell-gods?...

"Guess they cut out on you, Dru..." Buffy notes...Taking a defensive stand...

Oh...Dear...And I was so looking forward to tonight's Apocalypse...Dru sighs...

"Well...Another..." she pauses...

Buffy...? Is something wrong...?

The Slayer seems very tense, Miss Edith...Dru notes to her doll...

"Oh...!" Dru puts a hand to her head...

My soul...!...

"Headache...?" Buffy eyes her...

You have more than a headache to worry about now, you William-murdering psychotic little
bitch...she thinks...

Payback for 1880 is about to be forthcoming...Buffy tightens her grip on the stake concealed by her
carried jacket...

"No..." Dru stares at her...Bizarrely seeking comfort from the least likely source...

My soul is here...Hovering around...The Bad One...My nasty little sister...

"She ran away from me...Long ago... And left me all alone..."

"Except for my Spike..."

Who left me too...she sighs at Buffy...

"For..." she freezes...The sight of Buffy's now rather terrifyingly cold expression...Cicely's best
Slayer face...Shocking even Dru into near lucidity...

"Buffy...?...You...?" Dru pauses...Eyeing her in slowing growing fear...

"You married my...No...The other...That little poet..."

"The little William, I helped...Oh..."

He's gone and pushed my Spike away...Buffy, why did you let him...?

"HELPED?...You crazy maniac?!!..." Buffy screams at her...

"You murdered my husband William that night!!!...You put that thing in his body!!!...Tormented
him for a century!!!"

Dru falls back in the greatest fear...And lucidity...She's known in quite a...Well...That she'd ever
known...

"Husband?...Buffy...William died in 188...Something..." Dru notes, trying sweet reason...

Clearly the Slayer is upset...Needs to calm down and focus her mind...

"Of course if you've gone and restored his soul...And my poor Spike is still content just to be with
you...I suppose I must give you my bless..." an increasingly frightened Dru tries to make peace...

"I am Cicely Addams Walthrop!...William's wife...The Slayer who should have killed you in
1880...And her reincarnation, Buffy Summers-Walthrop...Also William's wife!..." a furious Buffy
blocks Dru's path...

Miss Summers is very upset, Miss Edith...Dru turns to the doll...I think we should be leaving...

"Please ask our soul to come back to limbo...If you see..." Dru begins...

"And we are the Slayer who is going to kill you right now, you bitch from Hell!!!...Just a century
late, that's all!!..."

"Say hello to your daughter-in-law...!!!!"...A raging Buffy leaps at Dru...


***
Act Two...

Scene twelve...(Back up the tunnel leading to the Well of Souls in the Wolfram-Hart tower sub-
basement...)

A shocked Willow confronts the spirit of Drusilla...Human Drusilla...Who seems to know her
surprisingly well...

Given the rather limited acquaintance of Willow and vampiral Dru...

The Angel Investigations staff person left by Connor to guard her attempts to persuade the Wiccan
to fall back...

Willow shakes her head...This isn't the Drusilla we knew...

And seeing as your arrow just went clean through her without hitting anything...I doubt there's
much you can do to protect me in any case...she notes...

"It's ok guys...I am not that Drusilla..." Drusilla smiles wanly at them...

Odd...Willow thinks...She's still got the English accent and all but if I didn't know better...

"Willow, try to understand...My time is very short...I'm being pulled back into limbo...It's only
because the Well was opened by the Wolfram-Hart people that I have a little more strength to try
and reach you..."

Why me?...Willow wonders...Gee, am I still putting out evil vibes or something...?

Well, she does seem human-soulish...And quite sane...

Maybe it's the magics thing...Drawing her to me?

Well, if it is poor Dru's soul...Can't hurt to offer a little comforting good news...

"William is free at last, Dru...He and Buffy have..."

"I know Willow...I'm very glad ...He helped me stay clear of that Other...Helped me free
myself...For a while...That and the fact that my counterpart murdered him is why I've got to
warn him...And Buffy..."

He gave me a second chance for life...The life I lost to Angelis so long ago...And the chance to meet
you, my love...

She eyes Willow carefully...

You were Drusilla's lover...? the staffer thinks, looking at Willow...

Ick...Now the boss has friends who abuse mentally ill vamps?...

"Tara?..." Willow gasps...

"Believe me, Wil...I didn't remember any of my past life when I came to you...I only knew
Tara...Though I suppose I was drawn to Sunnydale...Maybe to make amends to William and
Cicely...Somehow..." Drusilla sighs...

But there's no time...I'm slipping back...

"Baby...No...Let me hold you...I'll find something to hold you here..."

You can't Wil...But listen...There is great evil facing the Walthrops..."

Walthrops?...

"Buffy and William, Wil..."

Oh, right...Willow nods...Just haven't gotten used to that last name as yet...

"Someone is plotting to destroy them...Someone is about to take vengeance on them...And you
are...The instrument of that...Revenge..."

Moi?...No way...Giles just lifted my magics block for tonight...Soon as we deal with the Apocalypse,
I'm magics-free, techno-geek Willow again...

"There are other ways than your power, Wil...Believe me...You are the instrument of someone's
revenge on William and Buffy..."

Ah...Amy...I knew it...Geesh...She's never gotten over her anger...Just because I teased her in the
cage a coupla times...

And ignored her urgent need for intensive therapy after horrendous maternal child abuse and three
years of rat-life...

"It's Amy...Right?...Gonna lead me back to the dark side?..."

I don't know who Willow...I'm sorry...

"It'll be ok...Rupert...er Giles...Is looking out for me, helping me close out my magics to a sane
level...Amy won't be able to get me to hurt anyone...I won't be able to..."

Overconfidence, Wil?...You always were too overconfident of your power...the spirit notes...

"But I'm trusting in Giles, this time, baby...Not me..."

Be careful, Wil...Please...

"I will I promise...But oh, sweetie...What about you?..."

Find Drusilla, release me...It's all you can do for me now...

"But Tara...Listen...There's Angel's curse...And William and I are working on getting the Wolfram-
Hart resurrection material...There is a chance for us...Just as there was for Will..."

If all else fails we can book a flight to Africa tomorrow...

"No time...Wil...Listen...I can't see this Evil One's face in my mind...But whoever it is or they
are...They're close by...Warn Buffy and William...Warn them...And be on guard..."

And tell William...I beg his forgiveness...And am so happy for him...He was so kind, so good...

She starts to fade out...But throws a faint smile...

"And Rosenberg?...It is ok about Giles...I want your happiness...Go for it, girl..."

I love you, Willow...

"Always...Always...Alw..." she disappears...

"Tara!...Drusilla!..." Willow cries...

Hmmn...I'd never met Drusilla before, the staffer notes to herself...
The human counterpart actually seems very nice...

But then, William the Bloody is very charming and sweet now that he's got his soul back...

Gee...Maybe the Boss' standard "Kill'em without mercy" policy needs a little rethinking...

I mean...

Maybe we should do a screening or something on them before we stake...

***
Act Two...

Scene thirteen...(At the Well of Souls...)

Buffy throws herself at Dru...

A Drusilla terrified into something approaching lucidity is attempting to flee but blocked off from
the exit tunnel by her opponent...

And "daughter-in-law"...Of a kind...Who wields a sharp and lethal-looking stake...

Sort of every harassed daughter-in-law's secret fantasy...In a nutshell...

***
"Buffy!!..." William cries...As he enters the Well area, followed by Gunn, Angel, Giles, and several
staffers...

Buffy pulls up to look back...Dru drops back just in time from the Slayer's reach...

Drusilla eyes Will...Phew, saved by dear old Spike...No, wait...The Bad One...

And Angel...And others...All come for poor ole Dru...

Oh...she shakes with fear...

Still...Mr. Walthrop always was a kind sort...Worth a try, at least...

And she senses Spike still hanging about in there...

"Help me, sir!...Please!...Spike!...Don't let the Slayer kill me!..." Dru screams in fear...

We just want to help you, you murderous bitch!!!...Buffy yells at her...

The same "help" you gave my poor Will a century ago...

"Will, darling?!..." Buffy calls back to him...
"Grab a stake and help me give your vampiral "Mum" an appropriate welcome!..."

"No!!!!..." Dru screams...Turning and running...

"Wait Buffy!..." Will calls to his new bride...

Wait?!...Buffy looks back at him...

"I want to try to help her...But not torment her..." William pleads to her...

Great...She grumbles...

I'll say a prayer as I drive this through her heart...she shakes her stake at him...

"Buffy...All I'm saying is that..."

"We'd better get after her..." Angel notes as he runs up to them...

Hmmn...He looks at Buffy's angry face as she stares at Will...

Trouble in Paradise, eh...

Cicely a bit insecure about that century Will spent with Dru, perhaps?...

And who knows how much William participated in Spike and Dru's little trysts...Or Dru's human
soul for that matter...

Still...I should do something about poor ole Dru...

I suppose...Although, really...Angel notes to himself...I think the girl wanted a chance to experience
life outside the confines of her little mining village...

And she did let Angelis into her church sanctuary...Preety foolish mistake I must say, even if he did
give a magnificent performance, freeing her mother and then begging her prayers for his
redemption...If one looks at it from my pov...Considering all the agonizing I've done over the little
goose all these years...And that attempt I made to destroy her...

At some personal risk, I should point out...

I really am not the bad guy here...
***


Willow had arrived a few moments after...Close on the heels of Connor and his companions...

And told of her vision of human Dru...human Tara-Dru...Which her companion confirmed...

William questioning her closely...And eyeing his wife...Who reluctantly admitted that
perhaps...Some mercy was called for...

"I've just been...So torn up by all that I've been remembering, Will..." she looks at him sadly...

How little help I gave you...Back then and now...

"I guess I just wanted to do something to make amends..."

Make amends?...Girl?...William gasps...Grinning at her...

"Buffy...Cicely...You spared me and gave me a chance to fight my way back...Came
back...Twice...Hell, three times counting Xander's CPR...From the dead for me..."

I think I can put in a serious claim for being the best-loved husband in history...he finishes with a
smile...Hugging her as she cries softly...

"But..." he lifts her chin... "I do want to try to give Dru some peace...Even a crack at life again if we
could...Just...Lets do it with a little kindness...And sympathy, even if we do have to stake her..."

Buffy nods...Yeah...

And I was worried about losing my compassion...Before I took my leap that year...she thinks...

And maybe...Not all my anger at Dru is related to Will's suffering...Well, anyway...

"We'll do it the right way, Will..." she smiles at him...

The curse?...Angel asks politely...Suppressing his discontent at the lovers' happy reconciliation...

"I hate the thought of imprisoning her in that body..." Will notes...But...

Willow comes over...Ready to suggest that there may be another way...

William gives her a slight look...Please, Red...

OK...I'll sit on it...For now...her look back says...

"Well, in any case...We gotta catch her first before we can do anything..." Buffy notes...

What was that about Drusilla's human soul?...Giles asks as he and Wesley come up...Having been
tied up scanning the Well for any remaining threat...

***
"Dru was really moving...Probably no chance of finding her in the sewers now...But I want to give it
a try..." Buffy notes...As the gang gathers by the Well...

Yes...Angel nods, a solemn brood on his face...I'd like the chance to see Dru at peace at last...

Taken you long enough...Considering you've been in striking range of her for years...Both Wes and
William can't help thinking...

Still, he's trying...Gotta give him that much...

"I think it's a good idea...But..." Will pauses...

If you don't mind, Willow wants me to help her back here a bit...he eyes his bride...Who looks at
him and Willow...

Oh...?

"We're gonna scout around back in the vaults...See if there's anything we should be aware of
here..." Willow smiles at the Slayer...

Long as we're here, might as well do some pre-emptive action...she grins at Will...

And we might find something...Useful for Dru...

Yeah...Buffy nods...Sounds good...But...Will...

"Dru would be easier to track if you were with us...You can sense her better and you have the
chip..."

Hmmn...Angel watches Buffy...

Our new bride seems a little...Antsy about leaving the Mister alone with our favorite red-head...
Gee, Buf...Anxious newlywed?...Or is Cicely the jealous type?...Even of poor ole "gay, now"
Willow?...

Excellent...

"I can handle that end, Buffy..." Angel smiles at Will and Willow...

And too many people hunting will just frighten Dru off...

"Why don't we do one last Patrol together, Buf?...Just us...For old times' sake..."

That is, Will...he grins at William...If you trust me alone with your Missus...

And see if we can't help my poor Dru at last...


***
Act Three...
Scene one...(LA, night, thunderstorm raging...Aboveground, the lobby of a hotel not far from the
offices of Angel Investigations...)

Parker paces the lobby anxiously...

Damn that Angel...I must be crazy to go along with this thing...Buffy is never gonna give me the
time of day...

Still...He's never gotten her out of his mind...And the more he's gradually learned about her over the
past few years...

But c'mon...She's married now...To a very powerful if human-souled vampire...And how do I
compete with...

"Mr. Parker...?" A non-descript figure approaches him...A man of ordinary height, In a rather plain,
everyday dark suit...Could be anyone you'd meet in the street...

Angel sent me...I'm one of his men...I was told to bring you to the rendevous point...

Thought this was the "rendevous point"...Parker sighs...Looking out at the storm...

Great...

The things I do for love...

***
Act three...

Scene two...(In the bowels...no pun intended...Of the LA sewer system, near the Wolfram-Hart sub-
basement...)

Angel is peering down the main tunnel in front of him...Buffy close behind...

He shakes his head...

"I think we've lost her for tonight...She knows the system too well..."

Damn...Buffy groans...

"Well..." Angel smiles... "You'll get another chance to impress your new mother-in-law soon
enough I'm sure..."

"Very funny..." she frowns at him...Peering down the tunnel...

"I don't like knowing she's around, Angel...To make trouble for us someday..."

Much as I want to help her...For Will's sake...
"I really need to see her dead...The vampiral half I mean..." she eyes him...

"I understand, Buffy...er...Mrs. Walthrop..." Angel grins...

Mrs. Walthrop...Buffy beams...But...

"Angel, I guess this has been a little hard on you..." she looks at him...

Though you were wonderful back in Sunnydale...Helping us with that crazy wedding and all...

"I...I'm glad you were there..." she nods...

The others couldn't have understood...Not so quickly anyway...

"I was glad to be there for you, Buffy...And to see you happy at last...Cicely..."

And get you off my hands for good, you worthless little...he thinks...

To think I mistook you...You Victorian slut...for my Darla's noble soul...When I first came to
Sunnydale...

Just as your Cicely within took me for that fool of a poet...Your lost Will's desperately clinging
soul...

But, glad as I am to see you back with William...And unloaded from me...

Nobody walks on Angel...

Nobody...

Even if I zipped off to LA and did nothing for you or Dawn all the time since your mother's
funeral...And told you there was no chance for us when you came to me after your
resurrection...That I'd learned Darla's human soul was my true love...

Hell, Angel is worth waiting for...

And thanks to you...I had to settle for...

Cordelia...

Lucky me...he thinks grimly...

Wesley's leftovers...And with the gall to demand that I show her some proof of my love...

At least something to "hope" for...Even in the afterlife...

As if she could rate the heart of an "Angel"...
Well...I finally did show her proof of my love...

For Darla...

I told her my heart belonged to Darla...That the only thing she meant to me was that Connor had a
mother to care for him...

And if she wasn't happy...Leave...Get somebody else to keep you in the style to which Cordy Chase
is accustomed...Marry Wes ...If he'll have you...Now that you're polluted by the demons you took
for lovers while you were diddling around your "higher plane"...

Hell, take him now if you want...On the side...I don't care...Just keep it quiet and my son happy and
I'll see you're provided for...

All of which she decided to take rather badly...Moron...But...Fearing to lose her meal ticket...Oh,
excuse me..."Wanting to watch over Connor...And uncertain as to whether I meant it or was just
upset about her acceptance of demonhood...Perhaps still bitter over what happened with Connor..."

Not to mention hoping to get a shot at dear Wes...In time...She stays on...

But more important than that, dearest Buffy...You rejected me for the Watchers' job...Me...

The spot that would have guaranteed my ticket through the pearly gates...To Darla...

Maybe I should've properly begged for it...Gotten down on my knees and pleaded...

Now...I'm back to slogging through the mudheaps of this city...Chasing after any low-life I
can...Hoping to rack up enough brownie points to win my ticket...

Lovely...

Thanks, Powers that Be...

And did I remember to send a thank-you card about my undeserved condemnation...?

Then there's Connor...My dear sweet kid...Who, thanks to You and the Fates, wound up hating me
so much he helped seal me in that damned beer can of a coffin and deep-sixing me...

And is now upset with me for the way I treat his dear stepmom...How can I be so cold and
unfeeling?...

Knowing the mother who saved him...Dying to give him life...Only as a monster my staff talks about
in whispers...And the journals and papers describe in vivid, horrifying detail...

My poor Darla...Was she any more deserving of this than William?...

Oh, yes...Double thanks, PTBs...You bastards...But I'll be revenged on you...Darla and I both...
Angelis was evil but deranged...And a slow-moving fool...I won't make his mistakes...

Yes...Miss Addams...Miss Summers...Mrs. Walthrop...he smiles gently at Buffy, thinking...If I have
to clamber around in the muck here till Judgment Day...I have no intention of letting you and Willy
scoot off to blissful happy land...

Speaking of which...

"It's nice to see Will settling in so well with all of us..." Angel notes...

Especially with Willow...

"Well...He's always been fond of Willow...Even when he went to transform her...He was sweet to
her...It's odd..." Buffy smiles a bit wanly... "She's never forgotten how nice he was, even as he was
trying to get himself to kill her..."

Always bringing it up...Whenever we discussed what to do about him...

I suppose it was William, trying to reach out to her...Angel smiles...

He must have sensed a kindred spirit...he notes...Another gentle and poetic heart...

As he did with poor Dru...

Ummn...Buffy eyes him...

Yeah, I suppose so...But...

"But...He was just being...Kind..." Angel nods...

That's his nature...And there's nothing to forgive in any of it...

"No..." Buffy stares at him... "Of course not..."

Just as you have nothing to feel guilty about regarding me...Or Riley...Cicely...he continues...

"I'm sure William understands..." Angel notes...

Just as you do...

But...If you don't mind a little advice from your old friend...he pauses...

Watch yourself, Buffy...Don't ever let doubt enter your heart...And destroy the precious thing you
and Will have now...Angel notes solemnly...

Let the past be buried with the past...

Don't let it contaminate your present with William...

"After all...It's easy to let these things build up your mind...Things which probably mean nothing..."

"Whatdaya mean... "Watch yourself...?"..."

"Oh, beware...My sweet girl..." Angel eyes her...

"Of jealousy..."

A green-eyed monster that laughs at the one it feeds on...The cuckold lives in bliss, who knowing his
fate, accepts it and loves not his wronger...But...oh...what damned minutes does he count, who dotes,
yet doubts...Suspects, yet foolishly...Loves!...

She stares at him...

"Sorry..." he grins... "A little slightly adapted Shakespeare...Liam's favorite passage..."

But it has a point, girl...he looks at her...

Don't let jealously enter your heart...Torment your soul...

Ever...

"One's much better off living in a fool's paradise...I think..." he notes...

"What the hell do you mean by that?..." Buffy eyes him...

He raises a hand...It's just...

Will...Well, Spike...Has had quite a past...But now...

You have the present...

So...Don't let it be spoiled...Letting yourself dwell on that past...

"Thanks..."Buffy replies dryly...

But Spike's "experience" was rather limited...Thanks to Will...

To Dru, Harmony...Anya...and me...

Anya...? Angel thinks...I don't remember our pride ever running into...

Oh...

Why...Spike you sly blonde dog...Angel notes to himself...
Excellent...

A faint cry off in the distance...Angel grabs his cell phone...

A staffer has picked up a vamp's thermal emissions...

"Lets go...But...Buffy, you understand...I'm only concerned for you..."

Yeah...That's fine...Lets go...she eyes him coolly...

Say...she looks at him...

"Did you think to call Cordelia yet?...She must be going out of her skull back at the office with
Fred..."

You know...he shakes his head...You're absolutely right...I completely forgot...

"Wes has probably thought of it..." he notes...

But, I should give her a call...Thanks, Buffy...he nods as Buffy stares at him...And dials...

Luckily they're in the clear now...

"Cordelia..." he calls into the phone...

Good news...Sweetheart...
***

Act three...

Scene three...(The Wolfram-Hart tower sub-basement...Occult Research Storage vault...)

Willow is pouring over various documents...William eyeing the stacks upon stacks of books, spells,
and boxes of implements...

"Quite a treasure trove..." he notes...

Eh...Willow shakes her head...Mostly junk...

"Looks like these high-powered lawyers just grabbed at anything they thought sounded mystical and
dangerous..."

I would bet...Judging from what I've seen so far...Seventy percent of it's useless...And nearly all the
rest is minor hocus-pocus...Giles probably has more in his store alone..." she grins...

Right, Rupert?!...she calls...To a Giles on the upper balcony, likewise pouring over
materials...Having joined them after making a final sweep of the Well with Wesley...
Wesley, Connor, Gunn, and most of the AI staffers now in the sewer tunnels in the hunt for
Dru...

"It does seem rather a hodgepodge, Willow..." he agrees...

Might be worth a look at Joseph's office...While we have the chance...Willow suggests...

Why don't Will and I take a scoot up...she begins...Giles frowning...

"Well, if someone comes by...Or we set an alarm off, I'll have the world's only other human-souled
vamp to protect me..." she grins...

Actually...Giles...And Will...smile at her...

No...? Others?...Willow stares at them...

There are a couple in Europe, Giles notes...The original Dracula for one...

But they keep to themselves...Avoid all contact except when absolutely necessary...

Which is why Wolfram-Hart doesn't bother about them...They're generally not threatening their
plans...

"The original Drac?..." Willow eyes William...Then Giles...

"Well, Red...You didn't think that oily Eurotrash punk descendant was the original Impaler?..."
William smiles at her...

The King of Vamps?...Please...

A great-great grand-nephew...One of the original's last human victims...Before his cursed soul
achieved redemption...

"He achieved redemption?...Will, why didn't you tell us...?"

Spike wasn't too interested in redemption, Red...Until Buffy came into his...Our...Lives...And
nobody quite knows how ole Drac pulled it off...

Probably a special case, Willow...Giles notes...

"The original Dracula was not a vampiral victim...He demanded the vampire curse...And his soul
fully accepted the price..."

And this guy won redemption?...While you, Will...Angel, poor Dru...Willow shakes her head...

Their souls didn't require redemption, Willow...Just...Salvation...Giles smiles at William...

"Rupert?...Are you saying...That we've been Slaying...Innocent people...Who could have been
saved?..." Willow looks up at the Watcher in horror...

No, Red...William hastily cut in...

You and Buffy and Xander...All of you...Have been saving trapped souls...Freeing them in any
cases, like poor Dru's...Or mine...When they've been trapped in limbo...Or in the much more
common case, when the soul is already free...Simply destroying the monster in their shell...

Phew...Willow grins wanly...Say...

"You said two human-souled vamps...?"

The other...Well...Giles eyes William...

"She's a former Slayer...Who had rather a bad day in the sixth century...But..."

"She kinda backed into her soul restoration..." Will explains...

Actually she was intending to use a witch's spell to make all humans vampires...Then it came to
her...No humans, no human blood...So she tried to back out of the spell, as apparently she hates
being around animals...And it backfired on her...

Utterly accidental...See...She's sort of a Harmony type...Sixth century Roman Harmony type...

Still hasn't learned English yet...And tends to be more of a liability than a help...Giles notes...

But the Council watches over her and keeps her out of danger...Though no one can figure out what
she did...he concludes...

"Well...Shall we head up?...Mr. Walthrop?..." Willow beams at Will...

Absolutely...he grins...

Be careful, Rupert...she calls to him...And they moved to the sub-basement elevator...Direct access
to Joseph's office...

The doors close as they head up...

"That was what?...Three times you called him...Rupert...?" William grins at her as they rise...

Shut up...Willow glares...
***



Act three...
Scene four...(The sub-basement of the Wolfram-Hart office tower, night...A
storm still raging outside...)

A weary-looking Buffy confers with Connor, Wesley, and several staffers...

Drusilla seems to have evaded them all yet again...Though Angel, Gunn, and a
few others are still making their way back slowly...The searchers having fanned
out a bit earlier when they'd picked up Dru's traces at Angel's suggestion...

No sign of her since that last one faint trace...

Still, Wes cheerily points out...The evening has been a triumph...A rather easy
one...

And they've gained access to Wolfram-Hart secrets that the AI staff and the
Council have been trying to get their hands on for years...

Best of all...He grins at Buffy...Eyeing his watch...There's still an hour and
a half before sunrise...And the Council has rooms at a rather nice hotel
waiting...Including a large suite which if not an official bridal suite...

Will pass as a good imitation...

"Time for you to get on with the important things, Buffy..." he notes...

She grins back...Nodding...

Where's the Research Storage area?...she looks at him...

"Take her over, Connor..." Wes turns to him...

We'll keep a eye out for the other fellows here...Just in case...

"Buffy..." he turns back to her...

"May I be the first to officially congratulate the bride?..."

Oh...Yeah...she beams...Hugging him...

And releasing him, heads off with Connor...

"Nice girl..." a staffer smiles at Wesley...

Oh...Yes...Wes nods...

Ummn...the staffer hesitates...

"Tough break for the boss, I guess...?"

He'll get over it...Wes answers...A little coldly...

"In fact he did long ago...Remarkable facility the boss has for cutting the
ones he loves out of his heart..."

But then I suppose he had to learn it over the years he spent after recovering
his soul...And finding out the consequences of the little "happiness" detail of
the curse...

The staffer shuts up...A little...Non-plused...

No...Wes thinks, shaking his head...I've no right to judge him...To blame
him...Not me...Hell, I've only added to his sorrows even when I thought to
help...

But I can't bear to see poor Cordelia suffer...Even if it's only a lack of what
she knew Angel could not give her...That, to his credit I suppose, he warned
her about when he offered her a home with him and Connor...Love...And
happiness...

He settles back to watch the tunnel entrance...Making plans to send out a party
to sweep the local branches every few minutes until the others are safely
back...

Hope I can get a crack at those Wolfram-Hart records before we have to pull
out...he notes to himself...

Giles and Willow must be having the time of their lives in there...

The happy thought hits him...He has his own private reason to be content
tonight...

Reinstated with the Council...By the Chairman himself...

Not that he'd give up AI and LA...Still, a nice reward after all these years...

And a major potential help to the work in future...

Yes...A real night of triumph...And joy...
***

Act three...

Scene five...(A dark alleyway not far from the Wolfram-Hart office tower,
night...Thunderstorm raging...)
Parker waits, nervously pacing the alley...As he has been since being brought
here twenty minutes ago by Angel's contact man...Who'd left him with the
caution to be prepared to wait a while...Angel was engaged in an action...But
would come asap...

A manhole cover beside him is lifted with a rattle...He jumps...Jesus!...

Pulling a cross, and fumbling in his pocket for a bottle of holy water...

Parker's learned quite a bit about Sunnydale's nocturnal life in the past few
years in the course of gradually becoming obsessed with a girl he knew and
dumped in what he thought would never mean more than any other one-night
stand...

"Parker...?" Angel hisses...And seeing him, emerges...

I haven't got much time...he regards the cross and bottle of water...Put that
nonsense down and listen...

"The Slayer's new hubby is getting involved with another woman...In the good
ole human way, not a reversion to his demon..." Angel hastily notes...

"What?!...Are you jerking my chain?!..." Parker eyes him...

Willow...It seems William has had a torch for her all these years...

Willow?...

"You expect me to believe he's dumping Buffy for Willow?..."

Angel grins...Oooh...Such a premium on physical appearance...

"I always rather preferred Willow's sweet nature to Buffy's moods myself...But
I thought our little blonde Slayer was the love I'd been unconsciously
seeking...At the time...So I tried to overlook the whining and so
forth...Then..."

Though, of course...he notes...Buffy has grown up a bit since those days...

Besides...Who said anything about Will dumping Buffy...?

William's anxious to enter the twenty-first century...And has several sexual
revolutions to catch up with...

I imagine he hopes to retain a number of delightful young ladies on his dance
card...

But...Buffy is partially Cicely...A Victorian...And they don't take that sort
of thing too well...

"Yeah?...Say I still don't get that Cicely business...If she is Cicely, how
come she didn't know him right away?...And why'd she take so long?..."

Kid...When you croak, go up to the guys and gals-in-charge and ask to be
reincarnated to seek your lost love...Demand it...Tell 'em..."I'm Parker and
I deserve this one-in-a-billion reward for my wonderful service to Humanity..."
When they stop laughing and rolling on the floor...Look me up, if I'm there by
then...

Only a selfless servant of Humanity or a really maligned, innocent victim of
countless unjustified cursings gets such an opportunity...You think I'd be here
if it were that easy?...

And the alignment has to be right...She had to come back as a Slayer if she was
to have any chance of finding, catching, and freeing William...At a time when
there'd be even a faint chance of hooking up with him...

And he had to prove his fitness for her, I suppose...Angel smiles...Hanging on
for a century, in spite of everything...Just in the vague hope in his lost soul
that he'd find her again...And prove that it wasn't really her lack of love for
him that motivated her to drive him off in 1880...

As for not knowing him...You don't come back with the ole memory banks up and
running...It takes time, growth and development, and usually a fair amount of
life-shocks to get the memories flowing...

"And he'd throw that all away...For Willow...?" Parker eyes his "friend"...

"Kid, it's 2002 not 1880...Plenty of husbands and wives...And couples...Play
around...And for a former promiscuous vamp like our boy...It would only be
natural that he'd want to sow a few more oats..."

Anyway...What do you care if it's true or no...You want the Slayer, right?...

"And will pay any price to get her?...That is what you said when I ran into you
at the college party...When you recognized me from when you saw her and me that
night at her mom's tombstone..." Angel smirks...

When I was hanging round the cemetery...Hoping to catch her and say something,
anything about her mom and how sorry I was...That might make her think a little
better of me...Parker thinks...

"Well...Do you want to be the one to comfort her after her heart gets broken or
no?...I'm sure I can find another human to care for her if you don't...And
aren't prepared to go the distance to help her..."

Parker closes his eyes...And sees the object of his obsession...Beaming at him
with the smile she had given him that night...When for just a moment...The Slayer
had been all his...

Yeah...he nods...I want her...No matter what I have to do...

"Then be by...Ready to help me...I'll get word to you..."

Help...? How?...Parker eyes him...

"The human in William is out, Parky...Footloose and fancy-free...And soon,
he'll be casting his eye around...And when that happens...You and I will be around to
see that our dear Buffy sees just what she's married..."

And she may be a little more understanding of a guy who made a tragic mistake a
few years back, eh...he smiles at Parker...

"After all, turnabouts' fair play, right?...Good for the goose as well as the
gander...?"

Huh?...Parker looks at him...

The product of the twenty-first century American educational system, Angel
sighs, looking at Parker...Oh well...

If he can run around, why not her?...he explains...

Oh...Right...Hey, great, man...Parker beams...

And only fair, really...

Exactly...Call it...Our wedding present to Buffy...Cicely...Loosening up her
Victorian side at the very least...Angel grins...

***
Act three...

Scene six...(The Occult Research Storage vault in the Wolfram-Hart office tower
sub-basement, night...)

An exhausted-looking Giles on the upper balcony catches sight of Buffy as she
enters with Connor...

"Buffy!..." he waves...

"How's it goin' Giles...?" she looks around a bit...

"Where's Will...?" she calls...

He and Willow headed up to Joseph's office on the elevator...Giles replies,
pointing to the small elevator near the door to the vault...

"Willow wanted to check for anything useful there..."

Ah...Great...

"Wes says we should be thinking about pulling out...The cleaning and security
staff is sure to be returning by sunrise when the higher-up realize Joseph
didn't end the world tonight..." Buffy smiles up at the Watcher...

And you look awful, Giles...Time we went and took advantage of the Council's
generosity at our hotel...

"Bride of Spikenstein wants wedding night!" ...she mock growls up at him...

Ummn...Just kidding, Giles...she eyes his embarrassed look...

"Did I mention how much we both appreciated the way you guys dealt tonight?"
she quickly adds...

"The shock just hasn't worn off yet, dear girl..." Giles grins back...

We'll all be concealing doubtful and concerned looks after a night's rest, I'm
afraid...he calls down, a wry smile on his face...

"I understand..." she nods...

But I am happy, Giles...

"I know, my dear...And I am happy for you...Truly..." he smiles wanly at her...

Well...he eyes his pile of notes and the stacks a little reluctantly...

"Yes...Indeed my dear, I think it's time we were heading out..." he nods...

"I'll zip up and fetch my absent groom..." she smiles...

Hold it up a minute, Buffy...Connor asks...

I'd like to see the office of Mr. Evil myself...Just let me give Dad a ring and
see how he's doing...

Buffy nods and throws the elevator hold switch...

***
Act three...

Scene seven...(The rather palatial office of senior partner Joseph on the top
floor of the Wolfram-Hart tower, night...)

Willow is seen, intently hunched over a computer keyboard, eyeing a screen...

While William hovers round, peering into everything he can find...Rather
cluelessly...

"Anything yet?..." he asks hopefully...

Not yet...Willow shakes her head...

"There's only a couple of hours at best until dawn..." he notes...

Just a little longer, Will...

"I want this as much as you, you know...And I have two compelling reasons
now..." she quickly cast a smile at him...He nods...

"Hard to believe...All this time...Tara was poor Dru's sweet soul..." he shakes
his head...

She was anxious for your forgiveness...Willow glances at him again...

"Nothing to forgive, poor tormented sweet..." he smiles at her...

I never blamed her, Willow...

"Thank you...William..." Willow nods...A tear running...

She hesitates as she continues her work...William returning to his rummaging
through Joseph's closets...

"Will..." she eyes him... "I'm sorry...We should've tried to help you long
ago..."

You let me live, Willow...Gave me my chance to find my Cicely...Buffy...

Maybe...she nods...But I think of Amy...Maybe plotting against us out
there...In a rage at us for not helping her...And I think...Why didn't we try
harder?...Hell, we never even made a serious effort to go beyond the curse for
Angel...
"You lot were a bit preoccupied with saving Sunnydale and the world most of
that time, remember?..." he smiles at her, pausing as he pulls at a box...

As for Amy...Well, when we get home...We'll have a go at her...Try to get her
to get some help...

You know...Confidentially, Red...he grins...I think the Slayer is getting to
like this "redemption" business even better than Slaying...He frowns at the
stuck box and pulls...

It pops out and crashes to the floor...

A moving light in the corridor...Oh-oh...

"Will...I think some of the security people are back in the building..." Willow
hisses, watching the light come closer...

Elevator?...he eyes her...

"Try it..."

He runs to the elevator and presses a button...Nothing...

Lovely...

The sound of voices...At least two...A key rattling in the door...

Human...Will hisses...I can't fight them...

"Get down under the desk..." Willow hisses back...

Magics...? Red...? Will eyes her a little reprovingly...

Better than magics...she grins...

Get down...And let your feet stick out from the desk...

What?...

"Just follow my lead...Wes told me this Joseph has quite a rep as a ladies
man..."

What?...But he goes down...Hiding all but his feet under the desk...

Willow musses her hair and undoes her blouse a little...

The guards enter...Looking grim...Guns at the ready...
"Who the hell are you?..."

Oh...Hi...Willow smiles her best seductive smile at them...

Boss and I are working late...she grins...

"Joseph...We got company..." she coos...

"Damn...Grrr...Get out, morons!!!...." Will moves his feet and growls in a deep
base...

The guards look at each other...

Ummn...Just checking sir...The overnight staff is just returning...

"Fine, fine...get out!!!..."

Bye guys...Willow waves...

"God...I thought he'd take a break for tonight at least...What with the
temporary evac and all..." the older of the guards sighed at his partner...

Too bad the front desk was unmanned...He usually leaves word there not to be
disturbed...the guard noted...

Nice-looking girl...the younger guard notes...Little less hard-faced than his
usual...

He does like his red-heads, though...

***

The elevator soared up with a rush...High-speed express...For those moments
when you really have to run...From Angel or angry demons...Feds...Or irate fellow
partners...

The door opens with a whoosh...While Willow is buttoning up...

"Buffy?...Hi...We had a leetle trouble...Security..."

Hello, darling...Will calls from under the desk...

Buffy and Connor blink at each other...

"We've got to go, Buf...Security's back in the building..." Willow notes...As
she finishes...

Just a little play-acting for the guards...she grins at Connor...

"Come on Will, time to scram..." Willow calls to William...Who pulls himself
out...

She gives him a slight grin...Eyeing a computer disk...

Red...You are beautiful...his joyful look says...

Buffy still eyeing them...And blinking...

As Connor pulls his phone and calls for an immediate retreat...

"Red was amazing...As always..." Will grins at his bride...Who stares...

Lets...Amscray...Willow pounds the elevator button...

"Your blouse buttons are out of alignment..." Buffy notes to Willow...A little
sternly as they begin their descent...

Oops...Carried away by the passion of the moment...Willow grins...

Connor...she points...

And you, she prods Will...Turning them both around and rebuttoning...

All well down below?...William asks Buffy as he pecks her on the cheek...

Yeah...Fine...Just...Fine...Buffy nods...

No luck with your old girl though...she looks at William...

Phew...Thinks Willow, clutching the precious disk...

And grinning again at Will...A grin which Buffy catches...

"Time for us to get to the hotel and finally cut that wedding cake..." Willow
smiles at Buffy...

Who nods...A little wanly...

Yeah...

She takes Will's hand...He strokes her hair with the other...

Oh, yeah...she smiles...Brushing off...Whatever had crossed her heart for a
moment...
Just a busy night...The Cicely memories rushing in...Angel with his well-meant
"advice"...

Ridiculous to even think about it...She snuggles into Will's embrace...

"Alls over for tonight..." Willow grins to Connor...

Newlywed mode...
***


Act three...

Scene eight...(A downtown LA hotel...Early morning, first streaks of dawn...)

Buffy and Will are seen standing together in their suite, an exhausted but triumphant group of AI
personnel, Wesley, Giles, Willow, Connor, Angel, Gunn, Fred, and Cordelia smiling at them...The
bridal pair, nuptials finally getting a little proper celebration at last...At 5:55 am...

"Guys..." Buffy smiles wearily... "This is great...I love you all..."

Now get out...Willow finishes for her...With a wide grin...

Buffy grins back...And, sheepishly, nods...

"That's about the size of it...But I hope you know..."

When to get lost...Connor grins at her...

Will patting her shoulder...But looking a tad nervous...

"We'd better go..." Willow eyes him... "Your new hubby looks like he's about to try to find a zillion
reasons for us to stay..."

My new hubby...Buffy grins at Willow who grins back...God, what a year...

Yeah...Buffy nods, smiling at him...He does have the "nervous groom" look to him...

William rolls his eyes...

But the Slayer does not allow for any backing off...she notes...

"Especially a part Victorian Slayer...The ball and chain is firmly locked on your ankle, Walthrop..."
she smiles at him...

"Got it?" she eyes him firmly...

"Oh yeah..." he grins, sighing...To the general amusement...

"Ok..." Buffy smiles archly, nodding...

"Well..." Giles comes over... "Just two more things...And we'll leave you..."

First...William...He eyes him sternly...

"From what Buffy has told us of Cicely and you in 1880, you are a courageous and decent
man...Therefore, given your soul's return...I am entrusting the only..." he pauses a bit, smiling
gently at Buffy, some tears in her eyes...And his... "The only daughter I ever had..." he fights off his
emotion... "To you...So..."

Don't let me down, Randall...he grins at him...

And to make your first day together a little more memorable...If that's possible...

He hands Will a paper...

"Read it...Slowly..."

Will stumbles over the words a bit, but gives a surprisingly good pronunciation of the Latin...

A couple of years at Cambridge before my death he explains...

Giles...? Buffy eyes him...

"A little something from the Wolfram-Hart archives..." he smiles at her...

Oh...

Hopefully not something to make him dissolve, revert, or turn gay...she thinks a hair nervously...

"So..." Will looks up from the paper...

Now...?

Willow beams at Giles...She didn't quite get all of it but...Enough...

"Now...Take your bride out on the balcony for a look at the sunrise..." Giles smiles at him...

"Giles..." Buffy gasps...

"It's not permanent, Buffy...A little effort by the Wolfram-Hart types to allow some of their
vampiral operatives to act in daylight...But it should be effective for the best part of two hours...And
it can be repeated once or twice in a day..."

"Rupert..." Will blinks at him, floored... "I don't know what to say...I..."

"Just be careful using it...You should get some warning as it starts to fade but don't ever be caught
too far away from shelter...The Council would not want to lose its newest and most unique Watcher,
Mr. Walthrop..."

Buffy burst into tears...Oh...

"My dear...I didn't mean to..." Giles looks a little stricken...

"No...No...Giles...You don't understand...You see...Oh..." she has to pause...Memories
overwhelming her...

"We never saw a sunrise together back in 1880..." Will explains...

Our little affair had to be kept secret from her family...She always had to leave well before sunrise...

Buffy nods, burying her face in Will's shoulder as the gang stare...

So...It's really true...Willow thinks...She is Cicely Addams...And this has been a love story that's
lasted more than a century...

So...Angel thinks...It was all a lie...Everything she offered me...Belonged to William...

Just a leetle case of mistaken identity, eh Cicely...?

"Thank you..." Will says, simply... "All of you..."

He looks at them all...Holding his new...Or, newly regained...wife...

"I promise you...I will do everything I can to try to live up to what Buffy...And
Cicely...Deserve...Though I probably will never come close..."

"So...Is this what you went upstairs to Joseph's office for...?" Buffy whispers to Willow, coming
over for a last hug...

No, no...Utterly and solely Giles' gift, Buf...Willow shakes her head...

Angel...Giles turns to him, handing a second sheet...

"For you...And Cordelia...With my compliments...And the same warning..."

"Thank you, Giles..." Angel smiles at him... "This is...Unbelievable..."

Nice of you to finally do something for me, Watcher...After you all abandoned me once I was safely
cursed again...he thinks...

Thanks, Giles...Cordelia puts an arm around Angel...Who turns to smile at her...

"Well, boy..." he looks at a rather floored Connor...

"Shall we go see the sunrise...?"

***

Act three...

Scene nine...(Outside the LA hotel chosen for the gang's overnight stay, early morning after dawn...)

Angel stands alone on the street...Wonderingly looking about him...

Having asked wife and son to allow him a brief solo stroll...After witnessing the LA dawn for the
first time...On their room balcony with them by his side...

But his heart is not full of joy...Even if he had dared allow it...

A couple of hours in the sun...Every day I grant you, he thinks...But...

That's my reward...My redemption prize...

From dear ole Giles...Who probably choked within, giving it to me...The least he could do for me,
all right...Never trusting me before or after Angelis, always pressuring Buffy to see my flaws and the
hopelessness of any future with me...

But treating Will like a long-lost son...On the strength of a probably-crazed Buffy's past-life
memories, a few skillfully executed and likely well-planned "noble deeds" by Spike (nothing
Angelis couldn't have topped in his day) , and some magical evidence of a soul...

There is Connor of course...Darla's dying gift to me...The living proof of our love...

But that gift marred thanks to good old Wes...Another "friend" who had no faith in me...

My boy's childhood stolen from him...And me...

And of course there's my dear Cordelia...Shattered by her brief demon existence...Lonely and
desperate enough even to accept me on my terms...

And should I then smile on the Powers That Be for their little jokes on me?...Take it without
complaint like some twenty-first century human-souled vampiral Job?...

Or should I have my own laugh at them?...And their favored ones...

The seeds are planted...I saw Buffy's face last night when I mentioned William's...er Spike's, of
course...Past with Dru...And who knows how many others...
Our Buffy...Cicely is a jealous Slayer wife, no question...

If I can just push things along in the right direction...I'll yet be revenged on them...With her thanking
me from the bottom of her cheap little heart for it...

Ain't love grand?...

But the problem now is...How to fan those little embers of fear and doubt into a flame?...

A red-headed one...

Well...Dear Willow is desperate to free our Dru's human soul...Tara-Dru's, if the vision and story
wasn't some crazy new game of demonic Dru's...As well as help William win full Humanity...

And the Sunnydalers are still skittish around her with regards to her little magics binge...

While she's clearly still fighting to establish control over her abilities...Pretty successfully thanks in
part to Rupert, but not by any means absolute...

Hmmn...If I could get her to indulge her old ways a little...Strictly along the lines of helping restore
her dear Tara and good ole Will...And arrange for the others to find out...

Buffy...And the others would waste no time in believing her capable of anything...Oh, they'd make
their noises about wanting to help her... Still "being there for her"...

But they'd start her watching constantly again...Looking for the signs and portents of evil...

As all of them...Even Wes and Cordy, who've known me for years...Watch me...Constantly...Until
now...Now when I finally choose to give them something worth watching out for...

Buffy only too happy to let suspicion of Willow briefly substitute for her buried suspicions of her
dear William...

And what would be surprising in Willow turning for comfort to the other "outsider" in their little
band?...

In such a scenario there'd be plenty of opportunities for Buffy to see...Something...Going on between
our lonely Wiccan and her own dear Willy boy...

She'd just need someone...A dear and loving old friend, say...To help her see things clearly...

And suggest an appropriate course of action...

It's what a dear and loving old friend does, after all...

***
Act three...
Scene ten...(The lobby of the LA hotel where the combined AI-Sunnydale gang is resting after their
all night efforts, mid-afternoon...)

Giles is seen, seated, obviously awaiting someone...Wes beside him...

Chairman Travers and Amelia Walthrop-Hunt enter the lobby from the front street
entrance...Having come up from Sunnydale to debrief the team...

"Rupert..." Travers extends a hearty handshake...

"An excellent job...You, too, Wesley...My warmest congratulations..."

"Hardly deserving of praise, sir..." Wesley pauses... "Our enemies more or less abandoned the field
without a fight..."

Please, my young friend...To win easily is a blessing we should simply be grateful for...Travers eyes
him...

"And if they "abandoned the field"...It was only because they sensed the strength of their opponents,
I'm sure..." he nods...

"Alls well at Sunnydale?..." Giles asks...

"Apart from young Miss Summers being rather annoyed at the Harrises for not allowing her to miss
school and come with us...Yes..." Travers smiles...

"Are Buffy and...Mr. Walthrop...Well...?" Ms. Walthrop-Hunt asks...

"Far as the battle went, just fine...However as to the rest..." Wesley grins...

Rupert has been doing his dutiful best to avoid checking on them...

***
Act three...
Scene eleven...(Willow's hotel room, mid-afternoon...)

Willow is seated at a hotel-provided laptop, intently engaged in the study of the disk she'd brought
back from Wolfram-Hart that morning...

A knock at the door...She goes over to find a beaming Angel...

"Hey..." she grins...

Let me close my curtains...Unless...? she eyes him...

"Well, the second reading is still holding..." he smiles back...

But no need to chance it...

***
Having secured the curtains, Willow waves her guest to a chair...

"What's up?..." he nods at the computer...

You find something interesting last night?...

"Hmmn...Maybe..." she grins...

Ah...he smiles...A surprise...

For Buffy and Will?...

Could be...she eyes him...

"Maybe for you too, Angel..."

Oh...God...Guess that preety much gives it away...she makes a frown, but then grins...

"Didn't hear a thing..." he grins back...

"So..." she takes her seat at the computer...

"How was the sunrise?..."

"I'd forgotten how beautiful it could be...Even in LA smog..." he replies solemnly...

Movie sunrises don't do it justice...Not even IMAX ones...he smiles...

"Congrats, Angel..." she beams... "I'm so glad for you...Just be careful with the ceremony..." she
notes...

I will...And I have Cordy and Connor to watch over me when the other guys aren't...he nods...

Cordy...Willow thinks...

"Angel...About Cordelia..."

"She's not very happy, Willow...I know..." he shakes his head...

It was probably very selfish of me to ask her to marry me...But at the time we needed each other...

I...And Connor...Still do...And I hope she does...

"But I know it's been hard for her...I can't give her the full love she deserves..." he notes sadly...
Much as I do care for her...And wish I could take the risk of the happiness it would bring me...

"Well...If what I've got here really works..." she pauses...

That would be incredible, Willow...Angel eyes her...

"You really think...?"

Gotta look it over throughly...Plus I can't really test it...Though I'll have Giles look at it...

"Do you think Giles will go along with it?...In time to save Tara?..."

In time...? Willow stares at him...

"You said she was being pulled back into limbo..."Angel points out...

Dru is struggling to get her hold back on her...Out of some weird mix of loneliness and malice, no
doubt...

I hate the thought of her soul suffering more...Angel notes...Looking at the curtains...

"But if Giles is inclined to caution on this one...She's likely to be trapped with that pathetic maniac
for a while..."

Rup does kinda lean that way...Willow thinks...

Considering...This...he nods at the computer...I'm glad we didn't catch Dru last night...

"It does seem like it's easier if the vamp body is still around...Sort of an anchor for the soul, once the
demon is expelled..." Willow nods...

"But...If Tara...Dru?..." he pauses... "Must suffer more...I'd rather we stake Dru and take our
chances at reviving Tara...Or Tara-Drusilla...From spirit as Darla was..."

"Isn't there any way you could try to test the spell out?...In part, at least..." Angel eyes her...

Willow looks down...

"Magics and me haven't agreed very well lately, Angel...Giles does the magic works now except in
real emergencies...I'm just the research end of the business now..."

He trusted in your control last night...Angel points out...

"Only as the last resort..." Willow shakes her head...

Well...he nods...I understand...

"And I suppose...You're a little torn...Given Giles and all..." he pauses...

She blinks at him...

Geesch...I'm that obvious...? she thinks...

Ummn...

"Rupert's a lucky man...If he knows..."Angel smiles...

"We....I haven't..." she hesitates... "There's nothing between us...Just teacher and pupil..."

And psychiatrist...she grins wanly...

Though...It is true that I've been...Thinking about it...she sheepishly continues...

"You should act on it...Go for the here and now...If you're ready to let go of Tara..." Angel looks at
her...

"You can't do better than Giles...If he has the sense to take you up on it..."

As for Tara...We'll help her as soon as we can...

"Forgive me for pushing it...I just naturally..." he pauses...

"There's a lot I have to regret regarding her...I hope you understand..."

Yeah...she nods...

Well...he sighs, rising...I was going to ask you if we could check on things that might help...But you
seem to have the solution here at hand...

"If only we could make use of it...And give her the shot at life she deserves..."

He heads for the door, pausing at it...

See if you can get Giles to see how important it is to Tara to get moving on this, Willow...Please?...

"I'll speak to him myself, but coming from you it might have more weight..." he eyes her...

Well, gotta get back...he smiles, pausing...

"Will and I...Family men...Hard to believe, eh...?"

Not all that tough, really...she smiles back....

I'll speak to Rupert asap...Bye Angel...she nods...
And stares at the screen...

Tara's shot at life...

***

***
Act three...

Scene twelve...(Lobby of the downtown LA hotel where the gang is staying...Early evening...)

Buffy steps off the elevator, in quite a nice dress...Followed by the new hubs in a rather dashing
suit...Courtesy charge account of the Council of Watchers...and his newly rediscovered niece, grand
times four, Ms. Walthrop-Hunt who has spent the last hour "catching up" with her relative and his
new bride...

Giles, Wesley, Angel, and Connor await them in the lobby...All rather well decked out...

For a celebratory dinner at a nearby four-star restaurant, likewise courtesy the Council...And its
immensely pleased Chairman, currently en route to rejoin them after consulting with LA-based
Council staff...

"Isn't Cordy coming...?" Buffy eyes Angel as she, Amelia, and Will come up to the waiting group...

"Mom's still getting ready..." Connor smiles...

Hasn't had an excuse to really deck out in quite a while...he notes...

"She'll be down presently..." Angel nods...But...

Willow?...

"I dunno...She hasn't come down yet?..." Buffy looks around...

"She was hard at it when I stopped by her place earlier...Probably still up to her ears in research..."
Angel grins...Turning to Giles...

"You might give your top researcher a break once in a while, Giles..."

Willow was very anxious about this particular project...Giles nods...

"Nothing dangerous, however..." he hastily adds, noting Buffy's worried look...One matched by her
husband's...

My God...They are growing into each other...he thinks...Looking at the pair...

"Maybe I'd best run up and get her moving..." Buffy notes...
She'll stay there all evening if somebody doesn't roust her out...

"I'll head up with you..." Will turns toward the elevator...

Nah...Buffy shakes her head...Let me go...

"Wil probably got half-dressed and then got lost in her files again...She'd just be embarrassed if we
both come aknockin'..."

Consult with your new boss...she grins at Giles...

"Mr. Watcher..." she kisses Will and heads to the elevator...

"Wait, Buffy..." Angel calls...

I'd best get my own Missus moving...Let me ride up with you...

She holds the door and he rushes in...

"So..." Connor asks the question on all of their minds as the elevator door closes...

Married life workin' for you, Will?...

"Oh yeah..." Walthrop grins...

No doubt about it...

"Yes, a great institution...Marriage..." he notes expansively...

"Really..." Giles eyes him coolly...

The little blonde soul-restored freak who'd stolen his little girl...

Well, perhaps justifiably...If the Cicely tale really was true...Which it seemed to be...

Still, no reason for the boy to get too comfortable too quickly...

Buffy Summers...His closest thing to an adopted daughter...Is not to be taken for granted...

Even by the century-long tormented husband of her previous existence...
***

Act three...
Scene thirteen...(Floor of the gang's hotel rooms in their downtown LA hotel...Evening)

The elevator door opens and Buffy emerges, followed by Angel...

"Yes..." Buffy continues...With the exact expression Will had been wearing...

"Marriage is a great institution..."

Indeed...Angel nods...

She strides over to Willow's door...Angel turning slowly toward his own room...Reaching it just as
Buffy completes a second series of bangs and gives a reasonably loud..."Willow!?"...

Willow opens her door...A bit disoriented...

Wil...? Buffy eyes her...Frowning...

She could swear...She saw...Black...In those eyes...

For just a moment...

"Oh...Hi, Buffy...Ummn...Wanta come in?..."

"Dinner...? Willow?...Remember...?" Buffy glares a bit...

Oh...Yeah...Ummn...

Just a mo...she shuts the door...

"Anything wrong...?" Angel calls up to Buffy...Having rapped at his door to receive Cordy's own
anxious... "One minute..."

"No..." Buffy replies, a bit curt...

Just fine...

Willow emerges, a dress of sorts hastily thrown on...

"Hey...All set..."

Buffy sighs...And notches the glare intensity up a bracket...

"Shoes, Wil?..."

Oh...Willow looks at her bare feet...

Yeah...

"Why don't you come on in for a minute...?" Willow eyes her...

Yeah...Buffy frowns at her...

"Why don't I?..."

Cordelia emerges to catch Buffy's angered look as she enters Willow's room...

"Anything wrong?..." she hisses to Angel...

He waves his hands...A little out of the Buffy-Willow loop these days, honey...

"This is a dress I'm wearing..." she looks at him...

"And wearing...Like a true member of the Angel family..." he replies gallantly...

For just a minute...The grateful smile she flashes at him touches his heart...Just barely...

"You do look wonderful, Cordelia..." he smiles at her...

Thank you...she smiles back...Kissing him...

Well...Guess we'd best watch it...she notes...

Too many good things happening today...Don't want to push it...she grins at him...

No...he shakes his head...

We don't...

I could be happy with her...he thinks...If only...

If only the Powers That Be had given me half the chance they gave Spike...

Well...This vengeance on them will be for you too, darling...he notes to himself, eyeing her...

Buffy emerges from Willow's room, slamming the door...

And stalks over to the elevator...

They look at her...

"Willow isn't feeling well...She can't come...Lets go..." she says in a tight, clipped voice...

Cordy eyes Angel...Who gives the faintest shrug...

"Why don't I talk with her...?" Angel smiles at Buffy...

I hate to leave her alone like this...

"Whatever you like..." Buffy frowns as the elevator opens...

"Why don't you go down with Buf...?" he turns to Cordy...

I'll see if I can make Willow feel a little better...Be down in a sec...

***
Act three...
Scene fourteen...(Willow's hotel room...)

A still disoriented Willow eyes Angel sheepishly...

"I guess I blew it...Big time..." she sighs...

How could've I have been so stupid...?

"You wanted to help Tara, Willow..." Angel eyes her...

Magics...she eyes the computer screen bitterly...

I nearly killed everyone I loved...And what do I do at the first temptation...?

I blow it...

"All you did..." Angel begins...

"...was just a little testing...I know..." she frowns...

But look at me...I'm practically juiced up...

And Buffy...God...She'll never forgive me...With good reason...

"Damn it...What's wrong with me?...Do I want to prove what a loser I can be?...Kill everyone who
loves me?..."

You want the one you love back...At any price...Angel notes...

I can understand that...

"You're a good guy, Liam..." she grins... "If I may be so forward as to use the old first name..."

"Long overdue...If I may be so forward..." he smiles back...

Oh...she sobs suddenly...What am I gonna do?...

What's Giles gonna say to me?...I've let him down so badly...

"He won't be too hard on you, Willow...You know he's an old softy deep down..." Angel pats her
shoulder...
"But...I wanted so bad to prove...Prove myself to him..."

It's not just that he'll be disappointed...He'll know why I did it...

That I haven't gotten over Tara...

I know it's not fair...To him or Tara...But...I love him too, Angel...

I don't want to hurt him...And I couldn't bear losing him...

"I can understand that too, Willow..." he eyes her...

She nods...

I guess you can at that...

"Listen, Willow...All you have to do is make Buffy realize why you were doing...What you were
doing..." Angel points out...

She'll put things right with Giles...

Hah...she shakes her head...Buffy stormed out of here the minute she saw what I had on the
computer...Wouldn't even let me try to explain...

Well...he frowns...Buffy has had a rough time recently...But she'll listen to William...If you go
through him...

"You think so...?" Willow eyes him...

Sure...Speak to Spike...er Will...And ask him to intercede for you with Buffy...

He can make quite a case regarding what lengths a person may go to regarding his or his true love...

Willow winced at that...

"I guess you must see me as pretty fickle..." she sighs...

No...Moi?...Please...

I loved...Or thought I loved...Buffy....Only to realize it was Darla I was hunting for in her...

But that doesn't stop me from loving Cordelia as well...he notes...

"There's nothing wrong in it...And in Eternity I'm sure the Angel who loves Darla...And the one
who loves Cordelia will each find happiness with them...As will the Willow who loves Tara...And
the part of her who loves one Rupert Giles..."

But...For now...Speak to Will...Let him speak for you to Buffy...

"I'll head down and see if I can get her not to speak to Giles...At least for tonight..."

Thank you...Willow nods at him...

As for you, madam...Bed...

You'd better be at your best tomorrow for your audience with his Watcherness...he grins...

And her Slayerness...

She chuckles a bit at that...Our royal couple...And preety clearly aware of it, too...she can't help
grinning to him...

"We'll give 'em a coronation before you all head home..." he smiles back, heading over to the
door...

Or...Maybe...A royal funeral...he thinks...Coldly...

"Don't worry..." he grins at her...As he pauses at the door...
***
Act three...
Scene fifteen....(Lobby of the downtown LA hotel, evening)....


Cordy and Buffy stand with William, Amelia Walthrop-Hunt, Giles, Wesley, and Connor in the
lobby...

The others had caught Buffy's grim and angry mood as Cordy explained Willow's sudden attack of
illness...And dissuaded Giles from going up to her...

Not the magics again...Wesley sighs to himself...

Angel emerges from the elevator...

"Willow ok?..." Will eyes him...

A little better...But still feeling too ill for dinner...

"She wants us to go and have a good time though...And will call for us to bring her back something
if she feels better later..." he smiles...

Chairman Travers enters the lobby...

Angel slipping over to Buffy...Who eyes him...

"Well, people...I think it's high time someone showed you all a little appreciation..." Travers
beams...

Shall we go...?

"Hold off things for now, Buffy..." Angel whispers to her...

Please...It was just a slip-up...Don't speak to Giles just yet...

She frowns, but nods...

***
Angel hasn't had this good a time in...God I don't know...Cordy happily noted later to William as
the group returned to the lobby after quite a grand meal...

He was about as close to true happiness as I'd ever want him to get...Under the circumstances...she
beamed over to where her husband stood, out of earshot...

And looking...If not happy...Certainly profoundly content...

***

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